Naked Wines CEO Gormley to retire

Naked Wines CEO, Rowan Gormley, has announced he will be retiring from the company after this year’s Christmas trading period and when the de-merger and sale of Majestic Wine is completed.

Having proved himself in the COO role over the last two years, Nick Devlin will become the new CEO early on in 2020. Devlin is viewed by the board as a suitable leader to drive the business’s growth as a UK-based operation that has ambitions to scale further in the US.

Naked was previously part of the Majestic Wine group, but in August it announced Majestic was being acquired by US investment group, Fortress, in a deal worth £95 million. The sale completed a remarkable rise to prominence for Naked Wines, which has gone from crowd-sourcing start-up to standalone pure-play publicly quoted company in ten years.

Outgoing CEO, Gormley, said the appointment of CEO designate Devlin was the conclusion of a two-year-long process, to shape Naked into a position in which is can “fulfil its potential”.

“It takes one set of skills to take a business from zero to £200 million of revenues, and it takes a different set of skills to build it from there,” he remarked.

“I am a start-up guy, and Nick is the perfect leader for the next chapter of growth.”

Devlin has driven the growth in the Naked US business over the last two years, and is embedded in the Naked way of doing things, having been at the business for the last four years.

Gormley, who will remain a “significant shareholder” in the business, added: “It has been a huge honour to lead Naked from a scrappy start up ten years ago, to an international retailer.”

As previously announced, former Argos boss John Walden has taken over from Greg Hodder as chairman of Naked. Two new leadership roles, developing strategic partnerships in the US and winemaker relations worldwide, have also been created.

Gormley’s retirement was announced as Naked revealed revenue for its half-year period to 30 September jumped by 16% year-on-year to £87.5 million, with the US arm revenue up by 24% to represent the largest and fastest growing market for the group.

Reported EBIT losses grew to £5.7 million from £4.7 million last year, while the reported EBIT loss for Majestic was £200,000 compared to a profit of £4.6 million one year before.

Total loss after tax for the half-year period was £6.4 million versus a loss of £100,000 last year, as investment in marketing and restructuring costs mounted. The Majestic sale is expected to finalised by the end of the calendar year.