August 23, 2013, 1:05 PM

NakedWines.com raises $10 million to support international expansion

The web wine merchant aims to attract more customers in the U.S. and Australia.

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U.K.-based NakedWines.com has received $10 million in funding from shareholder WIV Wein International AG, a group of wine-selling companies. This marks the third investment Wein International has made in NakedWines.com.

NakedWines says it will use the funds to continue its expansion into the United States and Australia. NakedWines.com’s business model allows wine lovers to pay $40 per month to invest in independent wineries in exchange for wholesale pricing that the company says is 40% to 60% below retail, along with access to all the wine produced by the winemakers.

"We're in business to make rich people's wines affordable to normal people,” says Rowan Gormley, founder and CEO of NakedWines.com. “By funding winemakers, so that they can focus on making great wine, rather than selling it, we do just that. WIV's latest investment will really help us step up the quality of our wines in a way that our customers can taste.”

NakedWines.com expanded into the U.S. and Australia last year and now has more than 50,000 consumer investors in the two countries and 150,000 investors total. The company says it has invested more than $40 million in more than 130 winemakers spanning four continents. It now ships 10 million bottles a year to consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Last year it made its first operating profit of $1.5 million.

Customers can access more than 500,000 consumer reviews on various wines on NakedWines.com and also can communicate directly with the winemakers.

"Winemakers don't get the recognition or the rewards they deserve, and we want to see that change,” Gormley says. “In the restaurant industry, individual chefs have become much more famous than the restaurant. We're helping to do the same thing for the wine business."

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