Working on a vineyard in Bordeaux as a teenager inspired chairman Tony Laithwaite to start selling Bordeaux wines to Britons in 1969 under the name Bordeaux Direct. He teamed up with The Sunday Times in 1973 to establish The Sunday Times Wine Club, creating one of the world’s largest mail-order and online wine retailers. The Reading firm has a second online presence as Laithwaites, and has set up wine clubs with banks, insurance companies and British Airways. The family-owned business returned sales of £271.2m in 2006.
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