UPDATE 1-Naked Wines annual sales beat expectations as subscriptions spike

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April 15 (Reuters) - Naked Wines on Thursday reported better-than-expected annual sales growth of about 68% as the online wine seller benefited from a surge in orders during the pandemic-led lockdowns, especially in the United States.

With most restaurants and bars shut for long durations over the past one year, companies such as Naked Wines benefited as more people ordered wine home.

London-listed Naked Wines said group sales for the fiscal year ending March 29, 2021, grew 68%, ahead of its growth forecast of 55%-65%.

The company said its annual performance was helped by a significant increase in demand for its direct-to-consumer wine subscription model, with its repeat customer base increasing 50% during the year.

Naked Wines, which has a customer base across the United States, UK and Australia, said its U.S. business grew 75%, surpassing 150 million pounds in annual sales, or about 45% of its total sales. (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)