If selling wine in the UK is wrong, then why is Majestic doing it so right?

If selling wine in the UK is wrong, then why is Majestic doing it so right?

When a wine retailer operating in the UK announces half-year profit figures that are not only in the black but are up by over 23%, then the wine producers of the world really ought to reconsider their opinions on this country's wine market.

Earlier today, Majestic Wine reported a jump in both net and operating profits for the six months to the end of September. Sales also did well, relatively speaking for the UK wine market, increasing by 8.6% year-on-year, to GBP127.8m (US$203.2m).

Okay, I know that Majestic Wine is not a mass-market player here in the UK. But, it's no niche operator either.

For as long as I can remember in my eight (eight!) years at just-drinks, wine companies have waxed lyrical about how tough the wine market is in the UK, what with the dominance of the supermarket chains, the consumers' magnetism toward gondola ends and the depreciating number of operators on the country's high streets. This chatter has got louder as the downturn has got more serious; to the point earlier this year, when just-drinks' annual survey of the wine market in the UK concluded that the country was no longer the industry's top priority.

And yet, here is Majestic, who today credited the expansion of its 'fine wine' display concept – fine wine is defined as products retailing at GBP20 and above per bottle – across more of its outlets.

Something jars here, don't you think? If the UK is as bad as many have made out – one senior figure recently described the UK wine industry as being “in the early stages of terminal decline” - what is it about the Majestic model that flies so fervently in the face of such pessimism?

With my consumer hat on, I believe their customer sevice puts the UK supermarkets to shame, while the layout (and prices) in the Majestic warehouses suggests that you're not paying for said service. Throw in a user-friendly website and free delivery - earlier this year I used them to deliver 72 bottles of wine and three slabs of ale to our holiday home in the Lake District, 27 miles away from the nearest store, for no charge - and you'll forgive me for spending my wine pounds in Majestic.