Naked Wines Grows Its Business in the US; Impossible Foods Rolls Out to Over 750 New Stores


The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Naked Wines grows its business in the US; Impossible Foods rolls out to over 750 new stores; Zume cuts 200 more jobs as struggles continue. 

Naked Wines grows its business in the US

Online retailer Naked Wines has appointed Max Miller as its president of US business, and has announced over 80 new roles to help it respond to “soaring demand”.

Naked, which also operates in the UK and Australia, said growing demand for home wine delivery has resulted in the need to boost its workforce.

The new roles have been concentrated in the customer service, data science, finance and growth marketing divisions of the business, and are based in Napa, California and New York City.

New appointments have also been made by partners at fulfilment centres in California, Florida, Missouri and New York state.

Naked Wines has over 200,000 customers, or ‘angels’, in the US. It claims to be the largest direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine business in the States, a market that was worth USD$3.2bn in 2019 and has been growing at an average of 14% over the last five years.

Group CEO, Nick Devlin, said: “The introduction of social distancing has accelerated the shift in consumer behaviour towards buying online, leading to increased demand from both new and existing customers and I believe this to be an inflection point for the growth rate of the online category.” 

Impossible Foods rolls out to over 750 new stores

A total of 777 supermarkets in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Nevada have begun stocking the Impossible Foods plant-based meat substitute.

Fueling the increased distribution and a push to expand its product suite and geographic footprint domestically and internationally is a USD$500m round of funding the company closed in March.

Some of that money is supporting the company’s debut at stores like Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Pavilions, Safeway and Vons.

Since its debut in September, Impossible said it was the number one item sold at the locations it was available on the East and West coasts.

Impossible’s 12-ounce packages are sold for somewhere between USD$8.99 and USD$9.99 and it plans to soon introduce the Impossible Burger at even more stores nationwide.

“We’ve always planned on a dramatic surge in retail for 2020 — but with more and more Americans’ eating at home, we’ve received requests from retailers and consumers alike,” said Impossible Foods’ president Dennis Woodside, in a statement. Impossible Foods has raised USD$1.3bn from investors. 

Zume cuts 200 more jobs as struggles continue

The pain continued at failed robotics and pizza startup Zume on Wednesday when it cut 200 more jobs, about two-thirds of what it had left after sweeping cuts in January.

The company had been rumoured to be in talks with its biggest investor, the SoftBank Vision Fund, last autumn at a valuation of about USD$4bn. But after dumping its pizza business in a big pivot in January, it’s doubtful the company can be considered a unicorn any more.

It has gone from a company with three lines of business and about 1,000 employees to one line of business — compostable boxes — and about 100 employees.

Business Insider reports that CEO Alex Garden said in a company-wide email that an attempt at obtaining new funding fell through in the past month because of pandemic-related problems that Zume’s potential investors were having.

“We have seen our supply chain impacted and our customers delay or cancel business with us that would have generated revenue,” Garden said. “We have recently had no less than three potential investors back out of investment with Zume due to COVID-19’s impact on their businesses.”

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