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200% increase in English wine sales boost Majestic profits

Rising sales of English sparkling wine helped retailer Majestic Wine post a slight increase in full-year pre-tax profits today.

Majestic said a 200% increase in revenues from English fizz, as well as buoyant sales of Prosecco and still wines from the Rhône, Argentina, Italy and Spain, helped lift pre-tax profits by 2.2% to £23.7m in the year ending 1 April.

The company reduced its minimum online purchase to six bottles last June, and this helped lift online revenues 15%, meaning that more than 11% of its revenues now come via the internet.

Meanwhile, sales of fine wine (priced at £20-plus per bottle) rose 9.4%, now accounting for 6.5% of UK retail sales.

Total group sales fell 2.1% to £274.4m, thanks to a 69% slump in wholesale revenues, with the company deliberately reducing its wholesale activity to focus on on-trade customers.

Underlying sales growth excluding wholesale was 4.2% for the year, with the average spend per transaction flat at £128 and the average bottle of still wine sold for £7.56, up from £7.34 in 2012.

Majestic, which has 193 stores across the UK and in Calais, said it remained ‘confident’ in its long-term aim of opening 330 stores.

Chief executive Steve Lewis said: ‘Majestic is in excellent shape and has made good progress with the four key elements of our future growth strategy: new stores, business customers, e-commerce and fine wine.’

But chairman Phil Wrigley added a note of caution, pointing out that the new financial year had begun slowly, thanks to the earlier timing of Easter and the boost given last year by the Jubilee celebrations.

Written by Richard Woodard

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