When lockdown in the UK was first introduced, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the Majestic website crashed after a surge in online orders from people preparing to stock up and have wine delivered to their door. Happily it was up and running again soon, and the retailer continued to trade throughout lockdown, though closed its 198 stores to shoppers until early July 2020.
It’s been a busy year for the retailer in more ways than one. Its sale to US-based private equity firm Fortress Investment Group was finalised in December 2019. And chief commercial officer Rob Cooke, who joined the company in April 2019, has overseen a total revamp of the range. A Majestic customer himself, Cooke felt that the company had lost its focus, and tasked the buying team with curating new ranges they would be proud to stock.
The range review has seen a renewed focus on interesting parcels at the lower-premium end, some strong additions to the own-label Definition range, and some classic wines that had been lost brought back on to the shelves. ‘There’s a huge element of getting our business back to what we have historically done best,’ said Cooke. ‘Brilliant products, brilliant people, and a brilliant proposition.’
Sales during lockdown have surged in categories including rosé and English wine. As people stayed indoors and celebrations were cancelled, sales of Champagne inevitably suffered, but the average bottle price has risen.
Majestic also performed well at the Decanter Retailer Awards 2020 – winning New Zealand specialist of the year, as well as runner up for Australia specialist, Loire specialist and Judges’ choice award.
The best Majestic wines tasted by Decanter
Like the other major retailers, Majestic has been unable to hold its usual press tastings. However, they sent Decanter nine samples from the current range, and these are listed first below. The following wines were tasted at a press tasting in July 2020, during the temporary easing of restrictions. All wines are still available.
Don’t forget that all prices listed below are single bottle prices – there are savings to be made, sometimes significant savings, when you buy a minimum of six bottles (can be mixed).