Virgin Wines predicts big Christmas for Prosecco, Chianti and Sherry

Leading online retailer Virgin Wines is hiring 80 new temporary members to staff to cope with what it expects to be its busiest Christmas yet.

The retailer is planning for sales to rise 33% this Christmas.

Last year saw like-for-like December sales at Virgin Wines up 20% year on year.

Prosecco sales were up 170% and the company sold some 120,000 cases of wine.

“We’re expecting to sell an additional 40,000 cases of wine due to the growth in both our core business and the seasonal effect on our gift business,,” said Jay Wright, Virgin Wines' chief executive.

Andrew Baker, head wine buyer at Virgin Wines, see sparkling wine, and Prosecco in particular, driving festive sales.“We’ve already sold 22,000 more bottles of Prosecco this year than the same time last year,” he said.

“Furthermore, Prosecco sales in December 2014 were four times higher than Champagne.

"But Britain hasn’t lost its taste for the luxury French fizz. We’ve noticed a rise in Champagne sales in recent years, with sales up 45% in December 2014 versus the previous year.”

Other key drivers of sales will include Chianti, which has moved beyond its reputation for mixed quality pre-2000.

“Red wine consumers are moving away from the big, bold, oaky, high-alcohol reds that have been popular for such a long time.

“A well-made Chianti is the antithesis, offering a lighter, delicate and more expressive style,” Baker said.

The company is also seeing exceptional growth in Sherry and Port sales, which are traditionally good over the Christmas period.

“We’ve witnessed a bit of a Sherry revival in the UK, largely down to the increase in tapas bars.

“This trend applies to drinking at home, and we’ve noticed sales increase by 16% year-on-year.”

Virgin Wines recently announced sales of close to £40 million for the year to July 3, reflecting growth of 13%.

Its customer base rose by 40,000 over the period and now stands at 190,000

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