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Majestic posts healthy figures, continues ‘acceleration’

UK retailer Majestic has defied the poor trading conditions over Christmas to post healthy figures for the last weeks of the year.

The wine retailer, which has 160 stores around the UK, posted like-for-like UK store sales growth, excluding VAT, of 3.7%, for the nine weeks of Christmas trading from 2 November 2010 to 3 January 2011

Total UK store sales for the same period, excluding VAT, were up 6.4%.

Chief executive Steve Lewis said, ‘We are very pleased with our sales growth over the Christmas period. I would like to thank our loyal customers for battling through December’s dreadful weather conditions to purchase their wine from Majestic.’

The retailer will open 12 stores in its next financial year, to March 2012, Lewis told Decanter.com, in addition to the 12 stores it will have opened by the end of March 2011.

‘This is a major acceleration,’ he said, ‘for two reasons: the softening property market, and the move to six-bottle cases.’

Majestic reduced its minimum purchase from 12 bottles to six in September 2009, which has been a key factor in its growth, instrumental in increasing the ‘active customer’ database from 435,000 at the end of 2009 to 505,000 now.

Majestic bucks trends at every level. Its top-selling region by value and volume is New Zealand, while Australian sales are in decline.

France is ‘very important’, accounting for 35% of all still wine sales – double the national average.

Lewis reckons Majestic is several years ahead of the supermarkets in terms of trends.

Among British wine consumers, ‘There is a drive toward lighter, crisper, cleaner and more food-friendly wines,’ he said, citing the popularity of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and other white styles such as in the Spanish region of Rueda – and the lessening popularity of heavier, fruitier Australian wines – as evidence.

Lewis said there were no plans for Majestic to further reduce the minimum purchase of six bottles.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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