Becoming Majestic

From a wine-loving enthusiast to the
UK's No.1 Specialist Retailer.


Sheldon Graner

'Wine by the case'

In the late 1980s Sheldon Graner had the idea to set up a warehouse, where customers could buy wine by the case during the day, while still complying with the strict UK licensing laws. Key to this approach was the unique offer of expert staff backed up by a selection of wines customers could try before buying - and it's still a game-changer for Majestic today. The first store, trading as 'Majestic Vintners' opened in Harringay, London in 1980 - followed by a second in Battersea in 1981. The business changed hands a number of times - including a brief foray into the US market, with the acquisition of 104 stores in the USA in 1987.

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A decade of consolidation

In 1991, Majestic was acquired by Wizard Wines, owned by Tony Mason, the manager of the first Harringay store. Operating under the Majestic Wine name, the business was floated on the stock exchange in 1996. With a growing reputation for the breadth and quality of its range, all available for delivery from stores and by mail or telephone orders, Majestic was introducing UK drinkers to New World tastes and varieties.

By the end of the nineties, Majestic had a nationwide network of 80 stores - and over 200,000 customers. It also announced that, in 2000, it would start to sell wine online for the first time...

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Growing fast

The new millennium was a period of rapid expansion for Majestic.

Along with the launch of its first website, Majestic acquired the two stores of Les Celliers de Calais in 2001 and Lay & Wheeler in 2009.

In 2004, Majestic went against the prevailing wisdom and picked New Zealand to be the surprise hit of Christmas trading - and was proved right.

Despite the 2008 credit crunch, Majestic finished the 00s with strong sales - driven by New World regions - New Zealand, Chile and South Africa.

Another shift was the reduction of the 12-bottle minimum store purchase to six.

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Adapting and evolving

Between 2010 and 2015, Majestic's store network expanded to around 200 branches, with sales buoyed by a post-recession increase in Champagne transactions and the introduction of lesser known French regions, while the best-sellers continued to be dominated by New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

In 2015 with weak online sales, Majestic bought Naked Wines to help fill this gap.

Revenue grew, but spiralling costs meant a change of direction was inevitable. In 2019, Majestic Wine Group was split up. The Majestic retail business was sold to Fortress, a private equity investor, and the remaining group assets were re-branded as Naked Wines plc.



The UK's No.1 Specialist Retailer

Majestic entered its fifth decade immediately facing unprecedented and daunting challenges - who would have imagined a world where stores couldn't open and people couldn't leave their homes?

But Majestic's unique retail offer combined with the strengths built up over 40 years - adaptability, expertise, outstanding service and an absolute passion for wine - lead to strong results, innovation and above all delivering on our mission of 'helping customers discover wines, beers, and spirits that they love'.

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