Majestic Wines

Sherry, English Fizz and Eastern European wines flew off the shelves at Majestic this Christmas as the retailer hailed a “robust” festive performance.

Sales across Majestic’s business - including Majestic Retail, Naked Wines, Majestic Commercial and Lay & Wheeler - were up 3.2% (4.1% underlying) for the 10 weeks ending 1 January, Majestic revealed this morning (9 January).

Majestic Retail sales grew 1.2%, although it was significantly lower than last year’s period, when sales grew at 6.2%. Naked Wines put in the strongest performance, growing sales by 13% (7.4%, 13% and 33.1% in the UK, US and Australia respectively). However, sales at Majestic Commercial and Lay & Wheeler fell 4.6% and 4.7% respectively.

This meant Majestic was set to achieve its goal of £500m sales by 2019, said CEO Rowan Gormley. The company was “on track to deliver market expectations for the current financial year, and on track to accelerate investment in new customers, new winemakers and more fantastic wines” he added.

Christmas sales of English sparkling wine had grown 150% year on year, said Majestic, with Nyetimber (up 58%) and Chapel Down (up 36%) performing particularly well. Prosecco sales, too, showed no sign of slowing down - Majestic sold 9.5 bottles of the Italian fizz for every one bottle of champagne over the period.

Sherry sales also surged, growing 14% at Majestic and more than doubling at Naked Wines. Majestic credited this to the tipple having “dropped its age appeal by 50 years, with it being entirely acceptable for those in their 20s and 30s to be seen with a sherry glass in hand”.

Sales of Eastern European wines grew a whopping 190%, thanks to their position as “steady ships” amid “dismal” European harvests and Brexit-related turbulence in the supply chain, said Majestic.

Meanwhile, Southern French whites were up 49%, as shoppers “honed in on previously unsung heroes” such as viognier and picpoul, and magnum sales boomed, up 65%, with larger bottles of rosé and house reds particularly popular.

’Commendable performance’

Majestic had delivered a good result “despite all the discount wine promotions at the supermarkets” over Christmas, said retail analyst Nick Bubb.

It was a “commendable performance” said Liberum analyst Wayne Brown. “While the magnitude of the growth is less than some may have hoped for, it is a strong outturn considering the challenges in this segment of the market. The focus hereon is for a balance between sales growth and cost discipline, allowing for profits to grow in a more sustained and measured way.”

Indeed, added managing editor Martin Lane, Majestic had won out as shoppers continued to flee pubs in favour of home drinking. “Majestic Wine have cashed in on the trend, widening their appeal - moving away from their old wholesale-style business with better-looking stores, wine tasting and the ability to buy bottles in any quantities.”

Majestic has also appointed Joshua Lincoln as retail & managing director of Majestic Retail. He previously held the role of customer director for Majestic Retail, and prior to that, oversaw sales and service in Naked Wines in the UK, US and Australia.

His promotion was “richly deserved”, said Gormley, Lincoln having “transformed our store network into an entrepreneurial retail proposition during his time as customer director”.