UK retailer Majestic Wines abandons bricks & mortar

March 26, 2019
By Alana House

The UK’s largest specialist retailer of wines, Majestic Wine, has announced it is selling its 200 stores to focus on its online Naked Wines division.

The move will also see the company renamed Naked Wines.

Naked Wines was founded by entrepreneur Rowan Gormley in 2008 and bought by Majestic in 2015 for £70million. Gormley was made group CEO of Majestic as part of the deal.

Naked is a subscription business that signs up customers for regular payments. It sells more than 1000 wines in 18 division around the world including Australia.

Majestic said in a statement that almost 45% of its business came from online with a further 20% from international sales.

Gormley added: “It is clear that Naked Wines has the potential for strong sustainable growth, and we will deliver the best results for our shareholders, customers, people and suppliers by focusing all our energies on delivering that potential.

“We also believe that a transformed Majestic business does have the potential to be a long-term winner, but that we risk not maximising the potential of Naked if we try to do both. 

“Where we have no choice but to close stores we will aim to minimise job losses by migration into Naked.”

The company said Naked Wines is continuing to perform well and regular customer payments were expected to increase by 10-15% this financial year.

Majestic joins a series of UK retailers that are cutting back their bricks-and-mortar presence as online shopping expands and Brexit-related fears slow spending. Earlier this year, rival wine merchant Oddbins collapsed. 

However, Majestic told customers in an email that it would be trialling “a small number” of Naked-branded stores later this year.

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