Thursday 17 November 2016 9:39 am

Weak sterling will push up the price of wine and there's nothing anyone can do about it, Majestic's chief executive has warned

First it came for our Marmite. Then it came for our Toblerones. Now, weak sterling is pushing up the price of wine, the chief executive of one of the UK's largest booze retailers has warned.

Rowan Gormley, the boss of Majestic Wine, said consumers can expect wine everywhere to go up in price – "until we grow more grapes in the UK".

"In the long run, all imported products are going to have to reflect the fact the exchange rate has moved," he said.

"It's simply a matter of time until all prices adjust."

However, he added that over Christmas at least, prices at Majestic should stay as they are.

"We had hedged forward so we will hold our prices for as long as we can," he said.

Our plan is working

Gormley's comments, on the Today programme, came as Majestic reported a £4.4m pre-tax loss in the first half of the year, thanks to a writedown on its acquisition of online subscription service Naked Wines. 

However, underlying sales rose 10.6 per cent in the six months to the end of September – with like for like sales at Majestic's retail arm rising 5.7 per cent, while sales at Naked Wines rose 26.7 per cent.

"Our plan is working," Gormley said in the results statement.

"We said that we would deliver sustainable growth, not by opening more stores, but by investing in better customer service and better customer retention."

Last month Majestic began offering next-day delivery to wine fiends who just can't wait, while last year it ditched its six bottle minimum purchase, saying it wanted to make the shopping experience "simpler". 

In September shares crashed after it warned profits will fall short of its £16.1m target – but today investors seemed much happier, with shares rising 6.7 per cent to 322p in mid-morning trading.