April 3, 2001, 12:00 AM

Wine.com cuts more than half of its workforce

The Internet’s first wine merchant lays off 160 workers in a move to streamline operations.

Wine.com, the Napa, Calif.-based online wine merchant, says it has laid off 160 of its approximately 250 employees. The company has not revealed details of what areas will be affected by the cuts, but it is reportedly assembling a new executive team and business plan. Officials at Wine.com were not available for additional comment. The privately held, venture-backed company was launched in 1994 as the first wine merchant on the Web. Last August, it merged with online wine store rival Wineshopper.com in a deal for which terms were not disclosed. The deal was to include streamlining fulfillment and operation systems into a single warehouse in a cost-cutting move. At the end of last year, Wine.com announced that revenues had increased 300% over 1999. As recently as February, Wine.com announced a deal with Decanter.com, the online site of international wine magazine Decanter, to share content and serve as Decanter.com’s primary online distribution partner in the U.S. Wine.com is continuing to accept and ship orders.

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