Majestic Wine today confirmed it would keep all of its nationwide network of over 190 stores open, as it completed its transfer to the ownership of US firm Fortress Investment Group LLC (“Fortress”). The company also confirmed that previous boss, John Colley, had rejoined the business.
Majestic occupy a unique position as the UK’s only large specialist wine retailer, but plans were in place to close as many as 140 stores under previous ownership – cutting the estate by almost two thirds. The business employs over 1,000 highly trained specialist staff and had annual sales of over £300m last year, including its Commercial on-trade and French divisions.
The sale has been completed with funds managed by affiliates of Fortress, who are targeting further ambitious growth for the 40 year old brand. Majestic also unveiled its first new store for over two years – at a site in Blackheath, South London – as a signal of intent.
Fortress believe getting Majestic back to what it’s done best, with a combination of stores, online and direct mail, can be the key to future growth. Newly appointed boss Colley believes the first steps are making sure the stores are filled with the right wines for this Christmas – including an extra 2m bottle stockpile brought in for Brexit.
The company is also asking all customers, old and new, to send in requests with the wines they want to see on shelves as it vows to bring back favourites lost to in recent years.
“The key to Majestic’s future is simple” Colley explained “It’s the service our people provide, backed up by a range you simply cannot get anywhere else. That connection isn’t what it should be – so we need to get the wines back in that our customers (and staff) love first. That isn’t rocket science. Customers enjoy the connection to Majestic – to our wines, to our people and to our stores. We want to look at ways we can grow that connection further and not peel it back. That means bricks, clicks and flicks.
“Fortress and I see a huge opportunity in the UK over the next few years, and see Majestic as perfectly placed to take advantage. This is a fantastic country to sell wine in – the number one trading nation for vino in the world. And it needs Majestic at its heart”.
Speaking about which drinks he expected to be big this Christmas, Colley added
“English Sparkling Wine just continues to power on. I predict there’ll be record numbers of English corks being popped this December. And as a bit of a dark horse, look out for Austria – particularly their whites. Our sales are up over 70% YOY already.“