Majestic Wine celebrates best festive sales since 1999

Majestic Wine uncorked its best festive sales for a decade yesterday, and put its success down to a new minimum purchase policy.

The wine warehouse retailer also toasted sparkling sales of champagne and upmarket fine wine, as customers shrugged off the economic downturn to enjoy Christmas.

Steve Lewis, the chief executive of Majestic, said he had been "encouraged" by the response to the change in its long-standing minimum purchase policy from 12 bottles of wine to six from September. He added that existing customers were shopping more frequently and that there had been a "substantial" increase in customers trying it for the first time.

The policy has resulted in a small decline in the average transaction value, but a "marked double digit" uplift in volumes. For the nine weeks to 4 January, the 153-store chain's underlying sales were up by 11.7 per cent. This was its best sales for more than two years and the strongest Christmas trading figures since the millennium, when like-for-like sales rose by 20 per cent.

The festive boom at Majestic, which does not operate on the high street, is in stark contrast to Threshers owner First Quench Retailing, the 1,200-store off-licence group that collapsed into administration in October.

Mr Lewis said: "Christmas got off to a good start and it just kept going." Majestic said sales of champagne were up by 11 per cent, sales of fine wine were higher by 30 per cent and online grew by 17 per cent. One of its top-selling fine wines was a £25 bottle of red bordeaux.

Sales to businesses have also rebounded, but this was driven by companies holding their own Christmas parties rather than corporate gifting. Mr Lewis said: "Sales of champagne to business were also up by about 10 per cent – they had been in sharp decline for more than a year. We saw champagne sales start to decline at around the time Lehman Brothers went down [in September 2008]."

Across the business, the retailer's most popular champagne was Veuve Clicquot and its best-selling wine was New Zealand Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Mr Lewis said its busiest day was the Saturday before Christmas, and that it had received a boost from the snow and icy conditions before 25 December, as many people stopped working and went into "Christmas mode". He added: "We saw a lot of couples shopping together in the few days before Christmas."

But Mr Lewis has forecast a challenging year for the sector and the wider economy. "It is going to be very tough for the next 12 months and we have set up the business on this basis," he said. "But we've traded very successfully in the height of a recession."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence