In her M&As debut, Evino and Grand Cru proprietor enters wine tourism
As a result of the merger between Evino and Grand Cru, the Víssimo Group announces the purchase of a 20% stake in Wine Locals, a startup from Rio Grande do Sul that owns a platform for wine tourism and wine experiences
It was June 2020. While Covid-19 imposed its restrictions and quarantines, Wine Locals was born betting on a market that, at that moment, seemed to be a contradiction: wine tourism. Against the odds, the startup from Rio Grande do Sul put its model to the test and went through the pandemic.
Now, one of the big groups in the wine segment is embarking on the operation, willing to taste part of the revenues of a sector that should move, globally, US$ 29.6 billion in 2030, according to the consultancy Statista.
As a result of the merger between Evino and Grand Cru, the Víssimo Group closed the purchase of 20% of Wine Locals, which continues to have venture builder 4all as its majority shareholder. in advance to NeoFeedthe agreement, whose values were not revealed, provides for the possibility of the wine holding company to expand its share in the company.
“Wine has a role that goes far beyond the transactional one”, says Alexandre Bratt, CEO of the Víssimo Group. “And your experience is very rich. It builds customer loyalty and makes them evolve in their choices. With this agreement, we are closer to that connection.”
Conversations with Wine Locals began in 2021, when the startup developed projects in partnership with Evino. The negotiations gained momentum at the end of the same year, from the merger of the wine e-commerce with Grand Cru.
“Wine tourism is the sexiest market among the journeys of wine consumers, but it is the one with the least recurrence,” says Fabris, founder and CEO of Wine Locals. “That’s why we always had the plan to move towards urban experiences as well. And when Grand Cru went down in history, it was the icing on the cake.”
Before, the company had already set foot on the road to go beyond Serra Gaúcha. Today, its portfolio has options such as visits and tastings in wineries, paired dinners, picnics, bike tours in the vineyards, production of its own wine and events with winemakers.
The price range is also wide. The current package ranges from R$10 to R$1,190. Among wineries, wine bars and restaurants, the company serves more than 60 clients, such as Casa Valduga, Salton, Miolo, Casa Perini and Luiz Argenta.
In addition to formatting experiences for these partners, based on a platform of data collected on its platform, the startup has a marketing and digital content creation area to boost these projects.
With a model that also includes a marketplace for the sale of these experiences, Wine Locals generates revenue from the collection of commissions on these transactions. The company moves around R$ 1 million per month and has sold more than 120 thousand experiences, 30% of them, in the last three months.
“Wine tourism is no longer a trend, it’s a reality”, says Diego Bertolini, consultant and wine specialist. He notes that the sector is in full “boiling”, driven by factors such as the greater demand by tourists for domestic travel, and highlights the importance of urban experiences.
“Brazil has 89 million consumers able to consume alcohol who interact very little with wine and who are not going to be hooked by wine tourism, which is more niche”, he says. “It’s a blue ocean of potential new lovers who can enter this universe through experiences in their cities.”
To attract part of this audience, one of the first steps with Víssimo will be to include the 127 Grand Cru stores in the roadmap of urban experiences, starting with five units in São Paulo and Porto Alegre.
“Today, 40% of the consumers on our platform live in São Paulo”, observes Fabris. “Grand Cru stores are very strategic, because they already have this audience and a repressed demand for these experiences. We see a lot of synergies.”
Soon, this map will gain new options. With a forecast to earn BRL 800 million in 2022, Víssimo plans to close the year with 140 Grand Cru units. At the same time, it will start testing the format at Evino, with the first two stores in the city of São Paulo, between October and November.
“This will be an important growth driver for Evino in the coming years”, says Bratt. “At Grand Cru, which already has a more consolidated brand, we are looking at criteria such as cities with more than 150,000 to 200,000 inhabitants and a GDP per capita above R$20,000 to R$25,000 per year.”
From the “blend” with Víssimo, Wine Locals will also expand its borders. After arriving in Uruguay in March, through a partnership with Bodega Garzón, the startup is preparing its arrival in Argentina and Chile, in the next six months.
The idea is for the holding to open doors on this path. In Chile, she has deals with names like Casas Del Bosque and Errazuriz. And, in Argentina, Zuccardi and Nieto Senetiner. Another destination of the resources injected with the entry of Víssimo is the expansion of the team. The plan is to double the team to 23 employees by the end of the year.
beyond the wine
As Wine Locals begins its international journey, the investment in the startup opens a new avenue for Víssimo: M&As. Capitalized with an investment of R$ 650 million from Vinci Partners, the holding company plans other moves in this arena.
According to Bratt, the inorganic thesis is not restricted to acquisitions of minority stakes, in the same way as was done with Wine Locals. There is room for the purchase of control of operations, including larger ones.
“We look at a tripod that includes wine distribution channels and service and experience platforms,” he says. “A third vector is the expansion beyond wine, with the entry into new categories.”
This last criterion is also behind the group’s organic initiatives. The company has just created Drinksquad, a platform that marks its entry into the sale of spirits, with a partnership already signed with Beam Suntory. The gourmet and accessories categories complete the holding’s focus on this diversification.
The wine follows, however, as a protagonist in the group, which holds a slice of about 7% of this market. In 2021, 489.4 million liters of the drink were sold in the country, according to Ideal Consulting. Despite the 2% drop from the 2020 record, the volume represented a 27.4% growth compared to 2019.
Who emerges as the main rival in the category is Wine. The company has also been investing in a multichannel strategy, seeking to be present in all wine consumption journeys and in acquisitions. In 2021, the company bought the importer Cantu, for R$ 141.6 million.
With Península and eB Capital as partners, Wine tried, twice, to go public. The company postponed the project, but registered as a public company with the Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM), waiting for a more favorable window to open. Víssimo also does not rule out following the path of an IPO.
“Today, Vinci Partners is in no rush to exit and we don’t have a demand to pursue an IPO,” says Bratt. “But we are already one of the big players in this market and our roadmap is to be ready.”