Supermarkets will be ruing the day they caught a one-way ferry to Dover after Majestic wine revealed an increase in profits and sales from its three stores in northern France this week.
With group sales at Majestic up 8.9% to £280.3m and profits up 14.5% to £23.2m in the 53 weeks to 2 April, the star performance came from Majestic’s stores in Calais and Cherbourg, where pre-tax profits increased by 31.9% to £1.4m while sales grew 6% to £9.5m.
Majestic guarantees a minimum saving of £2 per bottle compared with the retail prices of its UK sales, and offers customers £10 towards their fuel costs for every £150 of pre-ordered wine.
A deal with P&O ferries also means customers can travel to France and back again from £19.
In France, Majestic customers paid an average of €4.35 (£3.50) per bottle compared with a UK average spend of £7.34. They also spent more in France, with an average total of €214 (£170) compared with a UK average of £128.
“This is not people going across on a whim,” said chief executive Steve Lewis. “VAT is static in France and duty is negligible, so if you’re organising an event it’s worth going across.”
Majestic had benefitted from British retailers deciding to withdraw from France, he added.
“It’s just us and the French supermarkets now, and they aren’t particularly strong on new world wine.”
Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Oddbins pulled out of France in 2010, citing the plunging value of the pound, the recession and the proliferation of cheap UK deals.