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Majestic Wines feel recession on fizz at Christmas

Majestic Wines sales dropped nearly 3% over the Christmas period – the result of cash-strapped consumers trading down.

The 147-store chain reported a 2.9% fall in like-for-like sales in the 10 weeks to 5 January.

Reasons put forward for the drop included corporate buyers going for still wine instead of sparkling at Christmas parties, and private buyers opting for sparkling rather than Champagne.

Chief executive Steve Lewis said, ‘There were far fewer parties, especially in the City (London’s financial district)… It wasn’t that they necessarily wanted to spend less, they just wanted to be seen as slightly more restrained in the current financial markets.’

But at the same time he said he expected to take opportunities offered by the downturn to snap up retail space.

Two new outlets will open in Shrewsbury and Edinburgh in the next few weeks, and six to eight new stores are planned for this year.

‘We must take take advantage of these difficult times to pick up good freehiold opportunities and to ensure we get the high-quality staff that enable us to compete against the supermarkets.’

Lewis also said they would be carrying more wine from non-EU countries such as New Zealand, Argentina and Chile as the pound continued to fare badly against the euro.

Across the board, sales of Champagne and sparkling wine slumped before Christmas.

Analysts Nielsen said in the four weeks to 20 December the number of bottles sold in the UK fell by 22%. Sparkling wine sales fell by 14.8%.

Lewis said the group’s total sales, including new outlets, were ahead of last year.

Written by decanter.com staff

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