Majestic Wine is looking to expand into Ireland, according to press reports. The Independent today claims that the group is planning to open up to five stores, including one in Belfast.

The newspaper says that chief executive Tim How has made several trips to Ireland to look at possibilities.

Majestic opened 10 new warehouses in the UK last year, taking its total UK estate to 114. The company hopes to open eight more this year. It also has three outlets in France around Calais and Cherbourg in the north of the country.

Berry Brothers and Rudd, the fine wine merchant, and Oddbins, the French-owned off licence chain, have both recently opened shops in Dublin, the Independent says.

In January this year, Majestic announced a rise in sales over the Christmas period, post a like-for-like rise for the eight weeks from 6 November to 31 December 2003 of 7.4%.