UK wine retailer Majestic expects strong sales momentum for Prosecco to continue, after drinkers' thirst for the Italian sparkling wine proved a highlight of its financial half-year.
Prosecco sales at Majestic rose by 39% in volume terms during the six months to the end of September, versus the same period of the previous year.
A spokesperson for Majestic told decanter.com that it sold 625,000 bottles of Prosecco over the half-year, as drinkers continued to embrace its more informal image – and lower price tag – versus Champagne.
‘It is not just for celebrating, it is a social drink for enjoying on a Friday and Saturday night, and we expect this trend to continue,’ the spokesperson said.
Sparkling wine has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise tough UK wine market in 2013. In September, the country’s Wine & Spirit Trade Association said year-on-year sales of sparkling were up by 10% by volume, versus a total wine sector in slight decline.
However, it also said Champagne volumes had dropped, showing that non-Champagne sparkling has led growth.
At Majestic, total net sales for its half-year increased by 3.3% to £130.2m, driven by a warm summer, new store openings and also a 15.6% increase in wines priced at £20-a-bottle and above.
Like-for-like sales, excluding the contribution of new stores, dipped by 0.4% as the retailer faced high comparative sales from the Queen’s Jubilee a year earlier.
Net profits rose by 8% to £7.25m, boosted by lower administrative costs and slightly lower tax charges.
Although the 2012 vintage Bordeaux en primeur campaign ‘was similar in quality and scale to 2011’, Majestic said its specialist business in this area, Lay & Wheeler, increased profits before interest and tax by nearly 14% on the same period of last year, to £575,000.
In fine wine more generally, Majestic said that it cut the range of wines stocked in order to focus on only the best-known names across the Old and New Worlds.
Written by Chris Mercer