Business has been slow as of late for e-commerce wine-trader, Winefinder. Now, five new investors have arrived and entered the company. In total, the Systembolaget challenger strengthens its war chest with the equivalent of approximately 1.8 million dollars.
Winefinder was founded in Helsingborg ten years ago already by Ole Nielsen. At the time, it was predominantly a wine club focusing on quality wines. In June 2007, the EC court decided to tear up the prohibition against import of alcohol to Sweden, and hence the door opened for e-commerce with alcoholic beverages.
The wine club was the first of its kind to receive permit from the Swedish tax agency to pursue distance-selling to Swedish private clients. The company has also been present online since 2011.
“It has been a wine store today, which has been selling through the internet. But we want to turn it into proper e-commerce. The goal is to become one of Sweden’s best e-commerce dealers, all categories”, says Robert Henrysson, recently appointed marketing manager.
He is one of Winefinder’s five new owners and has previously co-founded the betting & gaming company Jadeston with Tobias Nissen and Patrik Roos. In 2012, their company was acquired by American casino giant WMS Gaming. The latter two will also step into Winefinder as will Alex Tengvall, former CEO and majority owner of food company Risenta. As well as Johan Curman, also joint owner in Risenta.
“We were on the hunt to further use our knowledge within the web and how to work towards the consumers. I have a telecom background why I am appealed by the deregulation market where new meats old in an exciting manner”, says Robert Henrysson.
In June, they invested an equivalent of approximately $1.8 million in Winefinder and there is a possibility an additional 1.2 million dollars will be added eventually.
The operations are divided in one Swedish- and one Danish-registered part. Documents from Bolagsverket show that the Swedish subsidiary sold wine for $700.000 in 2014, while the total turnover ended at $5.1 million according to the owners.
Results for the Winefinder group have decreased heavily during 2014, compared to 2013. The Swedish branch show a loss at $470.000 compared to a loss at $180.000.
“Both the profitability and growth have been hampered due to different reasons. A major collaboration was made during the past year which has held back progress. That has been one of the things now worked off, which has been a basis for the growth we believe might come. I don’t want to go into what kind of collaboration, but there are some exclusivities which rendered one stuck for a while”, Robert Henrysson says.
The e-commerce is growing fast, not least within food. For example, this summer Mathem brought in an equivalent of $25 million from Anders Holch Povlsen – one of Denmark’s most successful investors in e-commerce.
“It is the same trend seen with wine, as with the food bags. We have more than double the range of products compared to a normal Systembolaget store, better prices and we deliver home to the door. It’s much about making it convenient for people.”, Tobias Nissen says, who is soon to assume the position of business development manager.
“But how fast can you get the wine delivered?” Right now, it takes a week.
“We are looking at cutting that, it should run faster. One of our main projects is to revision faster deliveries.”, says Tobias Nissen.
The range of products consists of 4 300 wines. There are no boxes instead the selection is just as in the beginning – quality wines bought by different connoisseurs of wine. On the site, you can fill in what wines you usually buy, what price ranges you are after, and what food you will eat with the beverage.
“Your wine-profile will develop in order for us to become even more accurate at recommending wine for you. If we would recommend something which you do not like, you will get your money refunded. That is a quality of service we have.” says Robert Henrysson.
The new site will be launched in a few weeks. Focus will initially be on the Swedish market.
“Our background has been to work on an extremely international basis. Within the gaming trade, we had customers all over the world, why it will pretty soon be a matter of growing in Europe”, Tobias Nissen says.