Wine-Searcher sold

Wine-Searcher news image

Wine's leading price-comparison site is to move into e-commerce. The image above is from Wine-Searcher's Instagram. 

Over the last few years I’ve heard of at least five, very keen, prospective buyers of Wine-Searcher, the New Zealand-based treasure trove of information about where to buy specific wines at what price. They all got pretty close to closing the deal but in the end failed to persuade Wine-Searcher founder Martin Brown to sell.

But today comes news that a sale has at last been finalised, to US-based Flaviar Inc, a company that has so far specialised in selling spirts online but was co-founded by a wine lover, CEO of Flaviar Jugoslav Petkovic. His comment on the acquisition is, ‘This is a classic case where the sum is greater than the parts. We at Flaviar are experts in spirits and e-commerce in the US and Europe, while Wine-Searcher brings unparalleled global reach, depth of wine expertise and a wealth of historic pricing and availability data. At the same time our two companies share a lot of our values, especially around independence, focus on benefits to the consumer and acting as an enabler for the industry participants to operate and improve their business.’

When working in London in the late 1990s Brown built an early wine-related website for wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd and saw the opportunity for a price-comparison site in the sector. The result in 1999 was Wine-Searcher which, despite a failed attempt a couple of years ago by Paul Mabray of Napa to build a rival called Pix, has had the field to itself.

Flaviar sells spirits online via, and with sales currently almost a million orders a year via a network of licensed retailers, mainly but by no means exclusively in the US. To this end, last year Flaviar joined forces with US distributor Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC).

So wine retailers already partnered with Wine-Searcher will presumably be encouraged to sell wine directly via the site. Wine-Searcher’s CEO Julian Perry explains, ‘Flaviar’s acquisition will allow us to keep doing what we’re good at, while adding significant new capabilities that provide consumer value, especially in facilitating e-commerce sales which is something we have never been able to do before. This will create more value for the many retailers with whom we work, and further enrich our data and the power of our market insights we offer the industry. Moreover, we will have more resources at our disposal to accelerate our technological development, particularly in building AI-powered services.’

Wine-Searcher already have an office in London. I wonder how long the company will be headquartered in New Zealand. Auckland is 18 hours ahead of New York – not very convenient for conference calls.

The deal was brokered by London-based Akur Capital.