Thatcher becomes Direct Wines’ group CEO

Direct Wines has announced the appointment of David Thatcher as group chief executive. Simon McMurtrie steps down on January 19.

Thatcher joined the Direct Wines group in April 2014 as UK managing director. He has more than 30 years of commercial experience in media and retail, including working at senior levels at Sky, Virgin Media, and as CEO of TalkTalk and MD of Top Up TV.

McMurtrie has decided to embark on a portfolio career, working as chairman for different businesses.

Direct founder and president, Tony Laithwaite said: “Since joining us as UK managing director, David has made an immediate and very positive impact on the business, and he has quickly convinced us that he is capable of stepping up to the group CEO role.

“He understands both our culture and our business model and I am confident his customer-centred approach and his appetite for innovation and operational excellence will serve us very well.

“I’d like to thank Simon for his outstanding contribution to the business. He has led Direct Wines extremely successfully for a sustained period. We are very grateful for that, and for his assistance in achieving a smooth leadership transition, including agreeing to continue to support us by bringing a number of strategic initiatives to a successful conclusion during the first half of 2015.”

McMurtrie said: “Over the last eight years, we have transformed Direct Wines from a UK business to an international one. Today more than a third of our revenues come from international markets. In addition, the quality of wine, people and customers which make up our business, is better than ever.”

David Thatcher said: “This is a very exciting time for Direct Wines and I look forward to building on the tremendous work that Simon has done in the UK and internationally. I will combine my group responsibilities with continuing personal leadership of the UK business, and look forward to a close and productive relationship with the Laithwaite family."

Direct Wines is owned by the Laithwaite family - founders Tony and Barbara, and their three sons, Henry, Will and Tom. All are members of the Direct Wines’ board. It offers more than 2,000 wines from 27 countries across its brands and wine clubs.

The group has three core markets, the UK, US and Australia, alongside franchise and distribution agreements in continental Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India. Direct Wines is also a producer, with vineyards in Bordeaux and England together with wineries in France and South Australia.