Majestic pops its cork as profits rise during the slump

MAJESTIC Wines yesterday toasted its recent trading over the first half of the year by reporting a nine per cent hike in pre-tax profits to &pound;6.1m<br /><br />The group recently slashed its minimum order for customers from 12 bottles to six bottles to take advantage of the booming drinking-at-home market.<br /><br />As a result sales to private customers jumped by 8.9 per cent in the 26 weeks ended 28 September, but trade to business clients dropped by 6.9 per cent as firms cut back on corporate entertainment.<br /><br />The group said that total sales were up by &pound;12.6m to &pound;106.7m &ndash; boosted by its acquisition of fine wine specialist Lay &amp; Wheeler.<br /><br />Despite the downturn prompting consumers to slash spending Majestic said the average bottle of wine purchased is now &pound;6.41 &ndash; up from last years &pound;6.19 while sales of fine wine were up 14.4 per cent on last year.<br /><br />Chief executive Steve Lewis also said that the group was set to benefit from the demise of rival First Quench Retailer, owner of Threshers off-licences.<br />