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Naked Wines picks Trupanion founder Darryl Rawlings as next chair as online firm pursues US growth

Naomi Ackerman
·2-min read
<p>The doorstep delivery firm is pursuing US growth as it sees demand rise during the pandemic </p> (Naked Wines)

The doorstep delivery firm is pursuing US growth as it sees demand rise during the pandemic

(Naked Wines)

Naked Wines has announced that American subscription business veteran, Darryl Rawlings, has joined its board as a non-executive director and is to become the AIM-listed online wine merchant's next chairman as it pursues US growth.

The Norwich-based firm sells wines from independent producers at supermarket prices, and has said its American business is its fastest-growing area.

Rawlings is the founder and chief executive of Trupanion, a monthly subscription business founded in 2000 that provides medical insurance for cats and dogs throughout the United States and Canada

On Tuesday the company announced that Rawlings will join its board with immediate effect as an independent non-executive director, before succeeding current chairman Ian Harding, who is stepping down after eight years this August.

The company said Rawlings' "experience in operating and scaling a subscription DtC business in the US over the last 20 years" will be "invaluable" to the board.

In the first half of 2020, US sign-ups helped Naked see subscriptions increase by 37% to 757,000.

The company has a customer base split 50% US, 35% UK, and 15% Australia, and it more than doubled global warehouse capacity in 2020 as it sought to consolidate the new cohort of customers drawn in by the pandemic's pub and restaurant shutdown.

Naked bosses told the Standard late last year that the company is now the largest direct-to-consumer wine merchant in the US, and that they are confident the business can continue to grow post-pandemic.

Harding said the decision to appoint Rawlings had been made after an "extensive search process" and highlighted the firm's "huge US growth opportunity".

The company saw founder Rowan Gormley leave in 2019 to be replaced as chief executive by in-house successor Nick Devlin.

Rawlings said: “Naked is disrupting the wine industry through its unique business model and superior offering to both customers and winemakers.

"Nick [Devlin] and the team have created a compelling consumer proposition with attractive economics and high retention. I’m excited to join the Board as the business scales and leverages its position as a leader in the direct-to-consumer wine market.”

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