Majestic Wine managing director expresses excitement about the retail estate's future

The managing director of Majestic Wine is confident that all jobs will be preserved after the parent company decided to sell the entire retail estate.

The firm is in advanced discussions with various bidders and hopes to close a deal this summer, while fine wine arm Lay & Wheeler will be sold in a separate transaction.

Josh Lincoln expects staff and customers to be in a celebratory mood this week and said the fizz will be flowing in stores.

He told DRN: “It’s a good news story about bricks and mortar retailing. There are people that want to spend a decent amount of money on a UK retailer and it’s not for asset stripping or anything like that.

“The rumours of our impending death in the press have been greatly exaggerated.

“We should wait for the ink to dry and then we will come up with a clear plan.

“We will be celebrating in store. There will be Champagne parties, lots of fizz. There is a really nice vibe in stores now.”

Lincoln began working with Rowan Gormley at Virgin Wines 14 years ago and he followed the charismatic South African when he founded Naked Wines in 2008. Gormley was installed as chief executive at Majestic when it bought Naked four years ago and Lincoln has had various roles at the group, but the plan is now to go down a separate path.

Gormley will continue to head up Naked Wines once Majestic is sold, while Lincoln will stay at Majestic along with the retail management team. Former Tesco BWS boss Rob Cooke has just joined Majestic as buying and merchandising director, and he will help spearhead the evolution there along with Lincoln.

“I have worked with Rowan for 14 years, I have learned a lot from him and I owe him a lot,” said Lincoln. “It will be sad, but at the same time it’s a great opportunity. I have fallen in love with the Majestic business.

“We are approaching it as all jobs are safe now. The staff have been incredible. They have really grabbed their destiny in their own hands. We have been honest with them throughout, as I believe in respecting people. They have played an important role in shaping the decision to split the businesses. We explored a lot of options and they helped us find the right answer.

“We are splitting both business because they can be stronger separately. Together they would both suffer. We have done amazing things together – Majestic’s online sales are in 30% growth and that’s because of Naked’s expertise. But both businesses have opportunities separately. That is the way forward and it is really exciting.

“I remain confident that there is a future for bricks and mortar wine retailing, but it has to evolve. We have to provide an experience in store. Retailers can’t just have a website and stores and say they are multichannel. It has to be seamless between the two.”

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