Majestic plans to float on AIM

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The Independent Online
Majestic Wine, the UK's largest wine warehouse chain, is planning a flotation on the Alternative Investment Market next month to fund expansion of its 59 outlets out of the company's south of England heartland.

Raising pounds 2m of new money, the flotation will put a value of about pounds 20m on the company, which will be 70 per cent-owned by John Apthorp, the 61- year-old founder of Bejam, who ran the freezer stores group for 20 years until its acquisition by Iceland in 1989.

Majestic, which made operating profits before exceptional items of pounds 1.24m in the year to April from sales of pounds 40.1m, emerged from the combination of Majestic Wine Warehouses with Wizard Wine, formerly part of Iceland, in 1991. It accounts for just under 2 per cent of the still wine sold in Britain and 6 per cent of champagne sales.

Majestic differentiates itself from high street off-licences and supermarkets with an emphasis on customer service - 80 per cent of its staff are graduates - a wide stock range, on-site parking, the ability to taste wines every day and free delivery.

Since 1994, pre-exceptional profits have grown from pounds 449,000. Pro-forma earnings per share of 3.9p that year grew to 6.6p in 1995 and 9.7p in the year to last April.

The average spend per customer at a Majestic warehouse was pounds 84 last year, reflecting the requirement to buy at least one case per purchase and a tendency for the group's predominantly middle-aged target audience to buy increasingly expensive wines. More than half the wines sold at Majestic are from France, with 27 per cent from the New World.