Honest Grapes, the high-end London-based wine club, has appointed an Amazon executive as its new CEO.
Ian Blackman comes from a four-year stint as Amazon's director of footwear and accessories, before which he worked at Marks & Spencer, Lacoste and Ted Baker.
'With an exceptional background in online business and a strong passion for wine, Ian is ideally placed to lead the company forward,' Honest Grapes' founder and current CEO Nathan Hill told Imbibe.
Honest Grapes was launched in September 2014 by Tom Harrow and tech investor Hill. The former was running Wine Chap (whose twitter description was 'Debonair but Dissolute') a wine club offering high-net-worth individuals such luxury jaunts as wine safaris in South Africa, truffle hunts in the Veneto, and weekends in Venice learning to drink like James Bond.
Hill offered start-up capital to take the club to another level, and Honest Grapes was born. He is cagey about numbers – 'We have grown 100% year on year,' is as far as he will go – but Imbibe understands membership to be around 2000, split into different levels of access and spend.
Harrow makes initial buying decisions with teams of members making final choices. The list leans heavily towards France and Italy but with imaginative selections from Spain and Portugal. Burgundy is a particular strength, with under-the-radar but excellent producers like the Australian Jane Eyre on the list. Hill told Imbibe they are particularly delighted with Burgundy's 2015 vintage, which has just been shown en primeur in London.
Blackman said Honest Grapes is 'an innovative company that brings fun, glamour and thrilling wines to its customers. Using technology to enhance the experience and putting customers at the heart of every decision made [joining the company] a no-brainer.'
Hill added, 'Having a heavy-hitting CEO join us at this stage is the next step in growing up as a business and with our blend of wine meets tech meets ecommerce I'm full of enthusiasm for 2017.'