Case study

What's in store at Majestic

Last month Sheffield and Twickenham, this month Glasgow. Bringing the tally of Majestic Wine Warehouses to 65, the current spate of store openings reflects its plan to become our only nationwide wine warehouse chain. And, with sales rising in the past year to nearly pounds 50 million, Majestic's expansion improves its ability to cash in on the high street boom.

The company's fortunes started to brighten when it was bought by former Bejam tycoon, John Apthorp, in 1989. Apthorp nurtured Majestic through the recession before turning it into a thriving concern. After last November's placement on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) raised pounds 2 million for expansion, it notched up the AIM award for most exciting newcomer. The morale of branch managers was given a boost, with share options taken up at pounds 1.60 now worth the price of a decent vin de pays.

Despite smart addresses in Knightsbridge and Mayfair, Majestic wine warehouses remain remarkably unstuffy places to browse and buy. The average purchase of around pounds 90 is achieved thanks to regular tastings, good car parking and a young staff to advise you.

Their chief buyer, Tony Mason, a self-styled trader rather than wine buyer, is a youthful old hand whose experience dates back to the pioneering days of Augustus Barnett and Oddbins. Last year, Mason cashed in on Sweden selling off the stock of its state-owned wine shops, snapping up 40,000 cases of wine at rock-bottom prices.

This year, he's cajoled another 90,000 cases of mostly mature red Bordeaux from the same source. These will filter through for the rest of the year, with 7,000 cases of fine wines held back until September and October to bolster the Christmas trade.

But there are already good buys available. The 1989 Chateau Vieux Vantenac, for instance, is a mature, sweetly fruity, merlot-based claret, a snip at pounds 3.99. The fleshy 1989 Chateau de Lisse is voluptuously approachable now and well-priced at pounds 7.99, although in limited supply. And, in handy half-bottles, the silky 1990 Medoc cru bourgeois Chateau Coufran, is a bargain at pounds 4.49 when you buy two or more.

The deal might not have suited every retailer. Mature, old-style claret after all swims against the tide of an increasing consumer perchant for youthful, oaky new world cabernet sauvignon and merlot. But Majestic's Previa and Espace-owning customers are a little bit older and more conservative, not to mention better-heeled, than most supermarket customers. The new world door may have opened at Majestic, but the current trend is back to the classic wines of Europe. It's a trend reflected in Apthorp and Masons's own pro-European proclivities. The appointment of Chris Hardy as a fine wine buyer and the latest offer of Bordeaux 1996 en primeur, is confirmation of Majestic's upmarket leanings.

The latest manifestation of fine wine Europhilia has been the development of a strong range of German estate rieslings. Liebfraumilch has never been much more than a joke at Majestic, which is content to watch from the sidelines as the supermarkets try to reverse the ebb-tide of lieb with the new wave drier German styles. This leaves Majestic free to concentrate on classic rieslings from producers such as Ernst Loosen and Studert-Prum in the Mosel. Among a plethora of fine rieslings at introductory prices until the 12th August, Von Buhl's 1996 Deidesheimer Leinhohle Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, pounds 5.99, is a beautifully poised young riesling. At just 7.5 per cent alcohol, the appley freshness of Studert-Prum's 1995 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, pounds 6.99, makes it a classic summer aperitif. It may not be quite enough to kick start the much-heralded riesling revival, but, in focusing on this underrated classic, Majestic is at least adding to the sum total of our simple pleasures

Suggested Topics
Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?