James Moore: Majestic's enthusiasm is rewarded

There is a lesson for those who complain that the growth of supermarkets is squeezing high-street competition
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Raise a glass to Majestic then, after the wine warehouse chain reported a set of results that, while not exactly fizzing with optimism, suggested a few celebratory glasses would definitely be in order.

The figures are all the more striking given the gloom surrounding First Quench, which owns Threshers and Wine Rack and is in the process of being broken up by administrators at KPMG. It's worth considering how Majestic has done it, given that it's not exactly easy for a medium-sized chain caught between the real specialists who focus on the very top end and the supermarkets which have been gobbling up the rest.

But Majestic has learnt from the latter and does things that supermarkets just can't. Its staff are knowledgeable and helpful, able to guide those who are not necessarily experts to a good bottle. There appears to be a real enthusiasm for the product in this business.

There are always bottles open to enable shoppers to taste before they buy and interesting selections that you would be unlikely to find in the supermarkets. The company has further proved itself skilful at playing the world wine market, picking up good bottles at bargain prices.

The decision to reduce the minimum purchase from 12 bottles to six was also sensible. A lot of people find the former just that bit too much to quaff. And it was noticeable that individual consumers have cushioned the company against the decline in its business supplying restaurants. There is a lesson in Majestic's success for those who complain that the growth of supermarkets is squeezing high-street competition. Retailers who understand their product and sell it well can survive and thrive by offering something different from stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap. Here's to them.

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