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Tony Laithwaite started his Reading based business in 1969 after travelling around France and filling his van with Bordeaux to sell from a railway arch in Windsor. The firm has grown quickly since teaming up with The Sunday Times in 1973 to create The Sunday Times Wine Club and offers more than 2,000 wines to some 700,000 customers. Better known as Laithwaites Wine, the firm restructured its management in 2008 and now has operations in Germany, Hong Kong and America. Led by chief executive Simon McMurtrie, sales were £343.9m in 2009.

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Company details
CompanyDirect Wines
ActivityWine merchant
Sales £m343.9
Operating profit £m4.1
Main shareholdersTony Laithwaite and family (100%)

If applicable:

* supplied by Company   † annualised figure   ‡  profit = ebitda