Brexit will make wine more expensive, Majestic boss warns

The industry is battling against the collapsing pound and it is ‘simply a matter of time’ before prices increase

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The Independent Online

Wine is about to get more expensive thanks to the collapsing pound, according to the boss of one of the country’s biggest wine merchants.

Rowan Gormley, the chief executive of Majestic Wine, said the industry is battling against the weak pound, which has made importing wine and grapes more expensive. It is “simply a matter of time” before prices are raised, he warned.

“In the long run, all imported products are going to have to reflect the fact that the exchange rate has moved, assuming the exchange rate remains low,” Gormley said.

“We’ll be holding our prices as long as we can, but you should expect wine everywhere to show [the effects of the exchange rate movement],” he added. Majestic, like many businesses, has hedged its position to protect it against currency fluctuations, allowing it to hold prices for now, but those hedges will run out.

“Of course, retailers will be working with suppliers to try and mitigate the costs,” Gormley said. “There are things you can do, like bringing bottling on shore to the UK, but until more grapes are grown in the UK we’re going to be importing the stuff and that means foreign currency.”

The wine industry has already warned global supply could hit a 20-year low this year after extreme whether decimated grape harvests in Argentina, Chile and France. 

Majestic announced that it lost £4.3m in the first half of the year, down from a £4.4m profit in the same period last year.

The pound has fallen 16 per cent against the dollar since the UK voted to leave the European Union and is also lower against the euro.

Across the UK economy, prices of raw materials jumped at the fastest rate on record in October, as the pound took a battering and fuel became more expensive. Input costs have risen an eye-watering 12.2 per cent over the year, the Office for National Statistics reported.

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