Majestic Wine could sell all UK stores in shift online

Britain’s largest specialist wine retailer mulling options for its 200 UK outlets as sales slow

Majestic Wine, the UK’s largest specialist wine retailer, is considering selling all of its British shops and becoming an online-only operation under the Naked Wines brand.

The company has appointed Rothschild & Co investment bank to work on options for a sale of part of the business, with a decision to be announced at its full-year results presentation on 13 June.

The potential sale of Majestic’s 200 UK stores would represent the culmination of the reorientation of the business under the chief executive since Majestic bought Naked, the company he founded, for £70m in 2015.

Rowan Gormley was made CEO of Majestic as part of the deal. Last month he announced that the Majestic name would disappear, with the main company adopting the Naked Wines brand.

Majestic has made approaches to private-equity buyers who might have an interest in parts of the business, Sky News reported.

The Majestic Wine retail arm made sales of £263.8m in the year to April 2018, more than half the entire group’s sales. But its sales growth lagged far behind Naked Wines, which has operations in the US and Australia. As well as the retail outlets, Majestic supplies other businesses, and owns the Lay & Wheeler online fine wines brand.

Gormley was brought in to turn Majestic around after intense competition from supermarkets led to the resignation of its previous chief executive. The company had struggled to adapt to increased internet shopping.