Millions of British consumers are increasingly health conscious and inclined to opt for low-calorie drinks that do not pack a high alcoholic punch. Their purse strings are tight amid the economic uncertainty sparked by Brexit and many prefer to save money by entertaining at home. They want to impress their guests and, more importantly, their social media followers with drinks that look vibrant, luxurious and refreshing. Yet they do not want to fiddle around with a multitude of ingredients to whip up something Heston Blumenthal would be proud of.
Independent retailers are bullish about their chances of flourishing after the news that Majestic is retreating from bricks-and-mortar drinks retailing. It said store closures are inevitable as it turns its focus more towards e-commerce, and finer detail on this new strategy will be announced in June.
This coming Saturday is annual Record Store Day. It’s an event when independent record shops get access to (almost exclusively vinyl) special editions of classic and not-so-classic albums that are, initially at least, sold only over the counter. The whole thing is pepped up by in-store performances and signings.
My first day as a trainee manager in Majestic Wine was in June 2001. I had applied for the job because it offered a graduate training scheme that promised quick promotion through the ranks, although the 25% staff discount was a factor too.
Recently, we were in our local Majestic. It was just a few days after the news that the historic wine hawker was winding up its warehouses and focusing its efforts online. Morale among staff was, unsurprisingly, very low. Their usual upbeat, friendly and welcoming demeanour had been replaced by anger, frustration and bewilderment at the decision to rebrand as Naked Wines, the company bought by Majestic for £70 million in 2015.
Online wine sales are reportedly growing steadily across Europe, and the UK is leading the way with eCommerce currently accounting for 10% of total off-trade wine sales. This growing interest from consumers in purchasing alcohol online reflects the wider retail climate, which has seen internet sales increase from 5.8% to 20% of total retail sales in the UK in the last 10 years.
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Erica Stuart on 01293 558 132