Naked Wines owner Majestic toasts turnaround plans after best-ever Christmas

Undated handout file photo issued by Majestic Wine of their chief executive Rowan Gormley. Photo cre

Undated handout file photo issued by Majestic Wine of their chief executive Rowan Gormley. Photo credit: Guy Bell/Majestic Wine/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Majestic Wine has toasted its best ever Christmas trading figures as boss Rowan Gormley presses ahead with a transformation plan following a difficult six months.

The warehouse wine retailer, which owns Norwich-based Naked Wines and Suffolk-based fine wines business Lay & Wheeler, said like-for-like sales rose 7.5% in the 10 weeks to January 2, an increase on the 7.3% increase it recorded last year.

Total sales were up 12.4% during the period, with Majestic saying it is on track to meet full year expectations.

Mr Gormley said: 'Delivering strong like for likes in a tough market is a tribute to the hard work that our people put in – right across the business.

'It is also particularly pleasing that both Naked Wines and Majestic Commercial traded in line with expectations and Lay & Wheeler has maintained its strong growth.

'Our transformation plan is working and we remain on track to achieve our £500 million sales goal. We said that we would be better prepared for Christmas than ever – and the numbers show that we did what we said we would do.

'At this stage we are not predicting a change to long-term margin expectations, but we need to retain flexibility to compete in a competitive market.'

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Around 30% of the company's annual trade is done in the lucrative 10-week Christmas period, it said.

Business divisions, year-on-year change at constant exchange rates

• Majestic Retail +6.2%

• Majestic Retail like-for-like (excluding new stores) +7.5%

• Majestic Commercial -0.8%

• Naked Wines +29.9%

• Lay & Wheeler +62.3%

• Group total +12.4%

Majestic Wine swung into the red in November, racking up half-year losses of £4.4 million, but said it was at a 'tipping point' in its return to profit growth.

The company has embarked on a three-year turnaround plan aimed at expanding and retaining its customer base, slowing down branch network expansion, and acquiring new customers for Naked Wines.

Wayne Brown, analyst at Liberum, said: 'A very strong update from Majestic Wine has provided us with confidence to leave forecasts unchanged. The shares have relatively underperformed the wider sector by 27.4% the last six months, reflecting the markets rather pessimistic view on full year outturn. Today's update should now help quell these concerns.'