Majestic toasts second-best Christmas performance in 42-year history despite 'cost of living challenge'

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Majestic, the wine and beer retailer, is toasting the second-best Christmas trading performance in its 42-year history after emerging as a festive winner.

Total sales increased 21.1 per cent during the eight weeks to December 26, compared to 2019 pre-Covid levels. Sales nudged up 0.2 per cent versus 2021 as the retailer achieved its highest-ever market share despite “heavy promotional activity” across the big supermarkets. The firm said that despite a challenging market, it had kept a lid on inflationary pressures for customers, with prices across its wines, beers and spirits cheaper by 2 per cent compared to last year “in order to help consumers meet the cost of living challenge”.

Majestic, which now operates more than 200 stores across the UK, including 14 in Scotland, said customers had left it to the “very last minute” this year, with the firm recording the busiest ever trading day in its history on December 23, as shoppers flocked to stores to stock up before Christmas and New Year. Bosses highlighted sparkling wine and champagne sales as key drivers of the chain’s festive figures as corks popped at the return of office parties and family get-togethers. Top-sellers included English sparkling wine (up 19 per cent), Cava (up 29 per cent) and “classical” French wine regions, while the timing of the winter World Cup drove a year-on-year increase in beer sales.

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Chief executive John Colley said: “Despite a very tough trading environment and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, Majestic achieved a strong Christmas performance which is significantly higher than pre-Covid levels. Even when budgets are tight, our discerning customers demonstrated that the value, expertise, quality, experience and delivery service of Majestic means we are the best place for customers to find wines they will love. Majestic colleagues across all our stores, distribution network and support centre pulled out all the stops to make it a successful peak period for the business. My huge thanks goes to all of our customers, colleagues and suppliers.”

He added: “We are under no illusions as to how tough the next 12 months will be, but I am more confident than ever that we have the right strategy and backing in place to emerge from the cost-of-living crisis as an even stronger business.”

The performance marks another year of transformation for the business, which was founded in 1980 and moved back to private ownership in 2019 after separating from Naked Wines Plc. Since then, following the reintroduction of old management and with the backing of Fortress Investment Group, Majestic said it had returned to growth and stability. It has also invested in physical retail, opening 12 stores during the past three years.

Majestic Commercial - the on-trade arm of the business - has also celebrated a post-pandemic recovery with more than 400 new bars, pubs and restaurants signed up during the year. Continuing the investment in physical retail, Majestic has plans to open five more stores in 2023 - including new sites in Harpenden, Bournemouth and Saltash - as part of a wider aim to add 20 branches to its portfolio.

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