Three months after pushing long-standing CEO Steve Lewis out the door following a poor Christmas, Majestic wine chairman Phil Wrigley has taken a novel approach to finding a replacement: buying one readymade off the shelf.
The wine retailer this morning revealed it was paying £70m to takeover online rival Naked Wines and getting its chief executive Rowan Gormley to run the enlarged group. Majestic is paying Gormley and his team £50m in cash, with the rest in shares, with new debt facilities funding the deal.
Investors didn’t seem too pleased with the cash-heavy acquisition as shares in Majestic (MJW) opened a whopping 11.6% down (or 37.5p) to 284p. It has recovered somewhat since, climbing back to 304p.
Majestic noted that Naked Wines had an “excellent” growth track record, with sales of £74m in the year ended 31 December, 40% up year on year, with an EBITDA loss of £3.3m. It currently has more than 300,000 customers funding over 130 winemakers.
Majestic chairman Phil Wrigley said: “The acquisition of Naked Wines represents a transformational deal. The two businesses have significant strengths which are very complementary.
“Majestic’s distribution skills, a nationwide UK store network and customer service orientated knowledgeable staff, are a perfect fit with Naked Wines’ unique sourcing and selling model. This acquisition will significantly accelerate the planned development of Majestic’s online capabilities whilst providing Naked Wines with a nationwide store network to allow a Click & Collect delivery option for its customers. In addition, this acquisition opens up attractive international markets, increasing our potential customer reach eightfold.”
He added: “I am delighted that Rowan has agreed to be the new CEO for the enlarged Majestic. He has a fantastic track record as a successful businessman, innovator and entrepreneur in the wine industry and beyond. He has also assembled a deep pool of talent at Naked Wines with a similar culture to Majestic.”
Rowan Gormley said: “The combination of Naked Wines and Majestic provides the very exciting opportunity to build a world class wine retailer, serving customers who are looking for inspiration that the supermarkets cannot provide. This is great news for the customers, staff and suppliers of both businesses and will ultimately create significant shareholder value.”
Majestic added in a trading update that it expected to announce adjusted pre-tax profit of approximately £21m for the year ended 31 March 2015.
French supermarket group Carrefour has revealed strong figures for its first quarter, with total sales up 6.2% to €21bn and organic growth rising 3.2%. Its total growth in France, excluding petrol, was 7.9% and by 2.6% on an organic basis as it continued to grow in all formats. Internationally, Carrefour registered sales growth of 8.4% – 3.6% organically – as it continued its “excellent” performance in Latin America and deployed an action plan for China.
Waitrose has celebrated its best ever Easter for non-food products, with sales, excluding petrol, up 22.8% for week nine of the new year compared with 12 months ago. It said the long Easter weekend and warmer weather drove up trade. Compared with Easter week 2014 (13–19 April) total branch sales were up 1.2%, the upmarket retailer added.
Easter confectionery sales rose 7%, as The Heston from Waitrose Dark Chocolate Egg proved popular. “It wasn’t all chocolate, though. We had our best-ever Easter for non-food, which was up 16% on last year and saw record demand for Easter bonnets and plush toys,” Waitrose said.
Yesterday in the City
Poundland (PLND) shares had a rollercoaster Thursday after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority refused to give the green light to its 99p Stores acquisition. The watchdog will now be taking the deal to a more in-depth “phase 2” investigation unless Poundland finds a way to allay its fears. The news caused an immediate plunge in Poundland’s share price, falling to 340.7p and 6.6% lower than its opening price of 364.8p. However, the shares bounced back to 363.8p almost immediately before steadily plunging throughout the rest of the day to finish 4.5% down at 344.6p.
Shares in Cranswick (CWK) opened down 18p at 1,401p before climbing past Wednesday’s 1,419p close after its pre-close trading update revealed underlying sales had grown 1% in the final quarter. The stock dropped back to 1,411p but still finished 0.7% up on the morning’s opening price.
Apart from Poundland, very few grocery stocks finished the day behind by much, with PZ Cussons (PZC) an exception at 1.1% down to 346.2p following the consumer goods firm saying performance “has been in line with expectations” during the period from 28 January to 8 April.
The FTSE broke back through the 7,000 point barrier again and finished the day 78 points – or 1.1% – up at 7,015.4 as speculation that Burberry could be a bid target lifted the market higher.