Majestic Wine, the UK's largest wine warehouse chain, said today that sales for the first ten weeks of the current year had been "encouraging" with like-for-like sales up 10%. The company made the announcement whilst unveiling full year profits before exceptional gain, tax and amortisation increased of £13.2m, up by 23.9% on a year before.

Operating profit was up by 21.6% to £12.7m on the back of a sales increase of 9.6% to £162.5m. Like-for-like UK sales were up 8.3%.

The company said that the average bottle of wine purchased at Majestic is now £5.51 up from lasst year's average of £5.40. Mwanwhile the average spend per transaction has risen to £113 from £107.

Tim How, chief executive of Majestic said: "We operate in an expanding market where consumers continue to show a strong interest in a greater choice of better quality wines. We believe that the prospects for the future growth of Majestic are very good."

The results represent the company's 12th consecutive year of record profits.

In a statement the company added that Tony Mason, its trading director since 1989 retired from the board on 28 March.

Meanwhil chairman John Apthorp also announced that he would be retiring from Majestic at the annual general meeting on 5 August. Simon Burke who has served on the board since March 2000 as a non-executive director will succeed him.