Majestic Wine to close stores and rebrand under Naked name | Business

Majestic Wine, Britain’s biggest specialist wine retailer, said it would shut a number of stores and adopt the Naked Wines name as part of plans to focus on its online and international business.

Faced with a declining high street, Majestic set out plans to focus all its efforts on Naked – the online wine retailer it acquired in 2015 for £70m – increasing annual investment by £6m to £26m. The Majestic name will disappear, with the whole business being brought under the Naked brand.

Its new “transformation plan” involves store closures at the 200-strong Majestic chain as well as asset sales. The company will review its dividend in June in light of the increased investment and restructuring, which will cost up to £10m.

The retailer makes almost 45% of its sales online and more than 20% internationally, and is eyeing up opportunities in the US.

Rowan Gormley, Majestic’s chief executive and the founder of Naked, said: “Where we have no choice but to close stores we will aim to minimise job losses by migration into Naked.

“Therefore we have taken a decision to focus all of our capital and energies into delivering the long-term potential of Naked, and releasing value from Majestic. Our plans for doing this are well advanced and we look forward to sharing the final details in June.”

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Majestic still expects to achieve its sales target of £500m this year and to meet forecasts for adjusted pre-tax profits of £11.1m, compared with £8.3m last year.

A string of well-known high street names, including House of Fraser, John Lewis and Poundworld, have shut stores or collapsed in the past year as shoppers increasingly spend online. Retailers have also been hit by rising business rates and minimum wage levels, as well as Brexit uncertainty, which has weighed on consumer spending.

Since the acquisition, Naked has more than doubled in size, with sales expected to exceed £175m this year. It sells more than 1,000 wines in 18 countries from a 200-strong winemaker portfolio, including the makers of Grange, Tignanello, Solaia, Stags’ Leap Winery and Ruinart Champagne.

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