Majestic sees its wine sales flow faster

MAJESTIC Wine said yesterday its half-year profits had jumped by a fifth as it said it continued to benefit from slashing its minimum order from 12 bottles to six.

Reduced competition on High Street sales had a positive impact after the First Quench group – whose brands included Threshers – plunged into administration.

Majestic made pre-tax profits of £7.3m in the six months to 27 September.

Overall group sales rose 10.2 per cent to £117.6m.

The firm saw a strong rise in demand for its more expensive wine – priced at over £20 per bottle – despite the tough consumer climate.

Chief executive Steve Lewis said: “People are prepared to spend quite a bit on a good, interesting, compelling bottle of wine.”

“If you spend £20 in a restaurant, you’ll get quite an ordinary bottle of wine, so we’re seeing people buying good quality wine to drink at home.”

Lewis said that it was a mistake to think that “everyone is in austerity”, citing “an enduring British love affair with food and wine”.

Majestic said that, despite reducing its minimum order in September, the average transaction had only decreased by 7.2 per cent to £122.

The group has 160 UK stores, plus a French business – Wine and Beer World – which has two outlets in France, one in Calais and the other in Cherbourg.

Total sales were boosted at these stores by the introduction of a guarantee that its wine prices were at least £2 per bottle cheaper than in its UK stores.

Lewis added: “We have seen a substantial increase in the number of customers on our database who have shopped in the past year, up 14 per cent to 496,000.”