Direct Wines has sold its Virgin Wines UK business for £14m to its management team, as part of its plan to focus on expanding the business overseas.

The management team included managing director Jay Wright, Graeme Weir and marketing director Paul Adams.

Two private equity funds, Mobeus Equity Partners and Connection Capital, were also involved in the deal.

Virgin Wines has around 160 employees in the UK, with a distribution and packaging operation in Preston, and a back office in Norwich.

According to the company, the sales of the UK business totalled £35m in the year till June 2013.

Wright said the plan was to build on growth achieved since he took charge in 2008, targeting £50m of sales over the next four to five years.

The company also plans to include an extension of its ‘try before you buy’ offering through wine tastings.

Direct Wines CEO Simon McMurtrie said the board of the Direct Wines group and their shareholder, the Laithwaite family, wants them to accelerate their growth in the US, Australia and in their core Laithwaite’s Wine business in the UK and that is where we are now focusing our investment.

"Since Jay took charge of Virgin Wines in 2008, he and his team have done a tremendous job of growing the business in the UK and we wish them well as they embark on the next chapter of their Virgin journey.

"We continue to own Virgin Wines in the US and Australia where they play a key role in the development of our businesses in those two markets," McMurtrie added.

Image: Virgin Wines sells red wine, white wine, dessert wine, rose wine and Champagne in UK. Photo courtesy of creativedoxfoto /