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New Majestic stores spearhead post-lockdown growth plans

Published:  29 July, 2020

Majestic Wine has confirmed the opening of new stores in Henley and Beckenham later this year as part of a five-year growth strategy aimed at increasing sales by 10%. 

The new sites had been in the pipeline ahead of the pandemic, said CEO John Colley, but “the positive performance and amplified sales during lockdown” had emboldened the company to look to further expand its bricks and mortar portfolio into 2021. 

The company said it had gained 150,000 new customers during the lockdown period, with a 300% uplift in online sales (which normally account for 20% of business), with Majestic confident it can hold on to a significant amount of that new business.

However, the company remains committed to the physical shopping experience, which Colley said is essential to the Majestic experience.

“We are definitely committed to physical space, because from a Majestic experience point of view it’s a key part of what we do,” Colley told Harpers. 

“We’d been reviewing our portfolio pre-Covid, and know that there are a number of wine spaces across the UK that would be crying out for a Majestic store, Henley being one of them, Beckenham too, and a couple more which I can’t talk about at the moment,” he said.

Colley added that he is looking to “rebalance the portfolio” of stores, looking for new and improved sites and locations as leases naturally come to an end, having seen a strong return of customers to in-store shopping post-lockdown.

“Some of those [stores] where the lease is about to run out, we’ll pull and they’ll be replaced by new stores more suited to our customer requirements,” he said.

Of the new customers gained during lockdown, Colley said many would have typically shopped for wine in supermarkets, but that the opportunity now exists to hold onto a significant proportion trough a mix of increased online sales and in-store sales. 

“We are an omni-channel business, which puts us a in a strong position, with vans in the shops, we have the ability to serve customers locally, and though our national fulfilment warehouse."

He added that Majestic Commercial, the wholesale arm of the company, which would have normally delivered two million bottles to hospitality customers over what became the lockdown period, was recovering from a slump to 100,000 bottles as the on-trade re-awakened.

“[On-trade] is selling through a lot of what we had in stock and I think in the next few weeks we will see a replenishing as they start stocking up on inventory that they have sold through, but it has been a slow start,” he said.

“We’ve been thinking about our strategy, and it’s been clear that the Covid period just reinforces what we want to do and we’ve seen so much positive feedback from our colleagues and our customers, so we want to give customers a great experience.”

Majestic was also working on “putting something back into the industry”, added Colley. “With suppliers, impacted by Covid, we’ve got a responsibility, not just to do right thing for colleagues and customers, but also for the suppliers in the sector.”

The new growth plans were unveiled as part of a new business plan that is focused on regaining customers lost during the Naked Wine period, along with ongoing range reviews a new website and improved staff training.

Earlier this month, Majestic revealed it had added 14 wines to its Definition label, at the same time revealing a change in strategy towards own-label