Majestic Wine to shut stores under 'Naked' transformation plan

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/majestic-wine-to-shut-stores-under-naked-transformation-plan-11674641">Majestic Wine to shut stores under 'Naked' transformation plan</a>
 

Shareholders have reacted negatively to a planned shake-up at Majestic Wine that will see the retailer focus on its Naked Wines brand and cut stores.

The UK's largest specialist wine store said that under plans, due to be revealed fully in June, the Majestic name would disappear and it would seek to build its online and international focus through Naked - bought in 2015.

The company, which has 200 Majestic stores, said the number would be reduced - with trading restrained by stiff supermarket competition, weak consumer sentiment and higher costs that have plagued the high street for over a year.

Majestic did not specify how many stores it would close but said it hoped job losses would be kept to a minimum through "migration" to the Naked name.

While its expectations for sales and profits this year were on track, Majestic's management said Naked's business model was the main driver of growth, accounting for a third of its group sales.

It funds independent winemakers who produce products at preferential prices for its customers - with sales expected to hit £175m this year.

That is double the total achieved in 2015.

Majestic said it expected to recognise restructuring charges of up to £10m in its annual results because of its plans but added the sum would be largely non-cash.

It warned there could be "substantial cash restructuring charges" from its next financial year though that would depend on the composition of its final plan to release capital from Majestic though it added this could be achieved without the erosion of shareholder value.

Shares fell 12% on Monday as investors digested the plans.

Chief executive, Rowan Gormley, told them: "It is clear that Naked Wines has the potential for strong sustainable growth, and we will deliver the best results for our shareholders, customers, people and suppliers by focusing all our energies on delivering that potential.

"We also believe that a transformed Majestic business does have the potential to be a long-term winner, but that we risk not maximising the potential of Naked if we try to do both.

"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."