Majestic Wine shows chief executive Steve Lewis the door

Lewis had spent 29 years with the wine merchants, six of which were spent leading the brand

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The Independent Online

After 29 years with Majestic Wine, six of which were spent leading the brand, chief executive Steve Lewis has left the company.

Wrigley said: “Life is complicated and business is complicated. We all believe that we could do better.

“Steve’s decision to cut the minimum purchase from 12 to six bottles just as the recession was ending was a great success. But his real legacy is in the culture and, particularly, the level of customer service you see in our stores.”

He said the new chief executive need not come from the wine trade but would need to understand “the broader market” and particularly digital sales where Majestic could double its current level of 12 per cent of revenues.

 

Lewis joined Majestic as a graduate trainee in its Clapham branch 29 years ago.

Since he became chief executive in 2008, sales have risen by 41 per cent and profits by 42 per cent. But analysts today said they expect this year’s profits to be no higher than those seen in 2012.

Majestic shares rose 14.25p to 344.25p but have fallen more than 30 per cent in the past year.

He has left immediately and Fran Minogue of headhunters Clarity Search has already been called in to find his replacement.

“Steve has done a great job but profit growth has stalled, said chairman Phil Wrigley.

“This is not something which we decided overnight and the board and Steve were in total agreement that we needed change.”

Majestic issued a profits warning a year ago and its recent Christmas trading statement revealed sluggish sales growth and lower margins as it took on price-cutting supermarkets and discounters.

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