Majestic Wine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Majestic Wine plc
Public company (AIM:MJW)
Industry Wine retailing
Founded 1980
Founder Sheldon Graner
Headquarters Watford, United Kingdom
Number of locations
211 in UK; 2 in France
Key people
Rowan Gormley, CEO
Revenue £284.5m (12 months to 30/Mar/2015)[1]
£18.4m (12 months to 30/Mar/2015)[2]
Subsidiaries Majestic Wine Warehouses Ltd, Lay & Wheeler Ltd, WBI Ltd and Vinotheque Holdings Ltd, Naked Wines International

Majestic Wine plc is the United Kingdom's largest specialist retailer of wine. The group's operating companies include:

  • Majestic Wine Warehouses Ltd, the main UK retail operation
  • Lay & Wheeler, a fine wine and en primeur specialist
  • Les Celliers de Calais (trading as Majestic Wine Calais) with two stores in northern France
  • Naked Wines, a customer funded, international online wine retailer

Early History[edit]

Majestic Vintners was founded by Sheldon Graner in 1980. Graner gained his experience as a merchandiser with the John Lewis group, and coupled this with his passion and hobby as a wine broker/trader to set up Majestic. He called the business Majestic after his other passion, collecting early UK postage stamps, especially those of Kings Edward VII and George V. The initial design logo for the company was based on a definitive set of King George V postage stamps of 1929

In the late 1970s, wine could only be bought through off licences or specialist wine retailers, usually in city centres, and only during limited hours. Using his merchandising expertise, Graner conceived the idea of selling wine throughout the day via a warehouse, with a minimum purchase of 12 bottles (1 case) to comply with licensing laws at the time. Another innovation was that individual wines could be tasted before buying.

Graner opened his first wine warehouse in Harringay, North London,[3] in 1980, under the management of Tony Mason, brought in by Graner to manage the day-to-day activities. The second store was opened in Battersea in May 1981. In mid-1981, the group called in receivers, and was bought by investment banker Giles Clarke,[4] where as Chairman Clarke built it into a UK national chain. From August 1987 to May 1988, Clarke was chairman of Majestic Wine Corporation Inc, a United States company which owned a chain of 104 stores trading as Liquor Barn in California and Arizona.[5] Following disposal of the US-based businesses, Clarke sold the UK plc business of Majestic Wines for £15 million in 1989 to investors, and went on to form Pet City.

In 1986, Mason set up Wizard Wine under the same concept, which in 1987 was purchased by retailer Bejam. After Bejam was purchased by rival Iceland in 1989, Mason and partners John Apthorp (now retired) and Tim How (CEO until 2008) bought Wizard Wine from the heavily-indebted Iceland. In 1991, Wizard Wine purchased Majestic Wine PLC in a leveraged buyout, and merged under the Majestic Wine Warehouses brand as a private company.[6]

Headquartered in Watford, Hertfordshire, under the leadership of Tim How (CEO until 2008), Majestic Wine became a public company in 1996, floating on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

Development and Expansion[edit]

  • April 2000 - launched, offering customers an online service.
  • October 2001 - Majestic acquired Les Celliers de Calais, whose business was based around the British cross-channel trade. Rebranded initially as Wine & Beer World, and since 2013 as Majestic Wine Calais there are now two stores in Calais and Coquelles following the closures of branches in Le Havre and Cherbourg.[7]
  • July 2003 - Majestic opened their first temperature controlled fine wine centre at St. John's Wood store.
  • October 2005 - Launched Gift Solutions, an online service designed to allow customers to send gifts of less than 12 bottles. The company's 13th consecutive annual rise in turnover was recorded, with profits of £13.2m.[8]
  • March 2009 - Majestic acquired the privately owned companies: Lay & Wheeler Ltd, WBI Ltd and Vinotheque Holdings Ltd as the fine wine specialist arm of Majestic Wine Plc.[9]
  • June 2009 - Majestic published company report stating that the administrative costs had increased by £6 million from £10 million, head office staffing increased by 10%. Store staffing increased by a little over 1%. The increase in store numbers means that the store staffing increase is actually a real terms decrease.
  • September 2009 - Majestic reduced its in-store minimum purchase from 12 bottles to 6 bottles.[10]
  • June 2012 - The minimum purchase for online orders and deliveries reduced from 12 to 6 bottles.[11]
  • February 2015 - Majestic announced the departure of Chief Executive Steve Lewis.[12]
  • April 2015 - Majestic acquired Naked Wines for up to £70 million and appointed Naked's founder Rowan Gormley as Chief Executive[13]


Majestic Wine Warehouses operates as a mixed case retailer, selling a mixture of wine, champagne and spirits with a minimum purchase of six bottles (in-store and for delivery). Majestic's stores offer customers free tasting, free delivery and free glass hire.[14]

Majestic Wine currently has 211 stores in the UK.[15]

The company's Chairman is Phil Wrigley, and its Chief Executive is Rowan Gormley.


External links[edit]