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Majestic Wine drops six bottle minimum rule

Retailer Majestic Wine has abandoned its six bottle minimum purchase rule as part of a new pricing strategy throughout its store network and online.

The result of a strategic review conducted by new Majestic Wine CEO Rowan Gormley, the removal of the six bottle rule takes effect tomorrow (27 October) with the aim of ‘making the shopping experience simpler and easier for both new and existing customers’.

It is a major departure for Majestic, which built its business around the concept of buying wines by the case – first with a minimum purchase of 12 bottles and subsequently a minimum of six from September 2009.

More recently, Majestic has come under pressure in an intensely competitive UK wine market. Its share price dipped by nearly 2% on Monday 26 October, after it announced the rule change. Shares were down nearly 14% year-to-date.

Its decision follows a successful trial in selected stores since the spring, which Majestic said had proved popular with new and existing customers.

The retailer added that, this Christmas, customers would receive at least 10% and up to 33% off all wines and spirits when they buy a mixed case of six wines and spirits, as well as free delivery and free glass hire.

Majestic is also offering customers a new ‘Money Back Guarantee’, including a full refund, ‘without delay or debate’, if they are not satisfied with any product.

‘Our customers were telling us that they wanted simpler, clearer pricing, and an end to the six-bottle minimum,’ said Gormley.

‘This new structure is part of our wider plan to reposition Majestic Wine to become the go-to destination for the best-quality wines at the best prices.’

Not everyone is sure that the move will pay off. Allan Cheesman, a wine retail consultant and former director of wine at Sainsbury’s, told Decanter.com, he was concerned Majestic had lost its point of difference.

‘Now they are no better than a high street chain,’ he said. ‘This is a sad day for what’s left of the UK specialist wine market.’

But, Gormley said, ‘There are now no barriers to shopping at Majestic, the pricing structure is very straightforward and I’m sure our customers will see this as a great move.’

The changes follow Majestic’s acquisition of Naked Wines in April this year, with Naked Wines founder and CEO Gormley appointed as CEO of the enlarged Majestic group.

Gormley was appointed after former CEO Steve Lewis stepped down in the wake of a ‘challenging’ trading period for the retailer.

(Extra reporting by Chris Mercer)

Updated 26/10/2015: To include share price information and comments from Allan Cheesman.

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