Majestic Wine sold to equity firm for £100m

Majestic Wine has confirmed the sale of its commercial and retail business to Fortress Investment Group for £100 million.

The sale includes all but one of its stores and the company’s website, along with the commercial on-trade business, the French division, Les Celliers de Calais, and Majestic’s HQ. It will be held by BidCo, a vehicle of the US investment firm, which is owned by Japanese bank, SoftBank.

The final Majestic store – the location of which is currently unknown – is being sold to an unnamed independent third party for redevelopment for around £5 million.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to eliminate the group’s debt and invest in the growth of Naked Wines. Additionally, around £3.8m will be paid to shareholders in the form of a dividend of 5.2p per share.

Rowan Gormley said he was delighted to have secured independent futures for both Naked Wines and Majestic Retail and Commercial which would allows them to pursue growth by focussing on their “unique propositions”.

The announcement said that in addition to strong growth in multi-channel sales, Majestic believed there was still a key role to be played in face-to-face retail – and that wine is uniquely placed to provide an experience which cannot be found online.

“We intend to be the leader in the UK retail revolution with a focus on experience, expertise and product,”Josh Lincoln, managing director of Majestic said, adding that the company had grown through periods of dramatic change, and had “the recipe to do it again”.

“Majestic has been on the UK high street for almost 40 years, building a bank of affection for our bottles, people and stores”

“We want to keep investing in our stores, in our people and our product – everything you can feel, touch and sip. After all, you cannot taste wine online.”

“Majestic is a British institution, occupying a unique position as the nation’s largest wine retailer,” a representative of Fortress Investment Group LLC said. “It offers a seamless customer experience across multiple channels – physical retail, online, subscription and to the on-trade – and has a customer base which loves its stores, people, brand and – of course – wines.”

“We are excited to work with management to grow the Majestic story.”

Following the news, the company confirmed it was was conducting a full range review, as previously reported by the drinks business, to focus on “getting back to what Majestic has historically done best”, overseen by new buying and merchandising director, Robert Cooke.

“The future of retail, and wine retail in particular, has to be around creating an experience customers seek out. Our first step will be refitting our store estate, using shelving and new tasting areas, to make them easier to navigate,” a spokesman said

It is also planning to roll out a new service to help gauge a customers’ palate in order to offer a more personalised wine offer, called Wineify and will open a new Majestic store in South East London in September.

A spokesman told db that after nearly forty years of trading, the Majestic name came “closer than ever before” to disappearing. “We’re determined not to let that happen again, to continue to be the nationwide specialist we truly believe the UK needs – the vital bridge between indies and supermarkets, and a pivotal route to the British market for producers across the globe,” he said.

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