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Majestic snaps up Lay & Wheeler

Leading UK chain Majestic wine has bought wine merchant Lay & Wheeler for £6 million.

Majestic has agreed to pay £4.75m for the fine wine specialist and taken on approximately £1m in debts.

Despite the economic downturn, chief executive of Majestic Steve Lewis said it could not miss the chance to acquire the merchant. ‘Opportunities like this don’t come along very often and you have to grab them when they do,’ he told decanter.com.

‘£6m is modest by Majestics’ standards and given the clear and continuing appetite of our customers for fine wine, Lay & Wheeler is an extremely good fit with Majestic,’ he added.

The acquisition may cause come surprise following the words of Majestic’s former chief executive, Tim How, at a parliamentary committee last week: ‘I’m extremely concerned by the outlook for the rest of this year and well into next. The position of the industry is very fragile, certainly the worst in my time. I would have thought it will cause Majestic to consider its rate of expansion,’ he said.

Lay & Wheeler will continue to operate from its current base in Suffolk with Johnny Wheeler, the only remaining family representative within the business taking the role of president of Lay & Wheeler. Jeremy Palmer, who has until now been Majestic commercial director, will take over the day to day running of the Suffolk company as managing director. Lewis would not comment on the future of its 35 staff but will meet them on Monday 9 March.

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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