Majestic Wine has increased its presence in the fine wine sector by acquiring specialist firm Lay & Wheeler for GBP6m.

The UK wine retailer said late last week that it has bought Vinotheque Holdings and WBI Holdco, collectively known as Lay & Wheeler, for GBP4.75m (US$6.6m) in cash plus the assumption of around GBP1m in net debt.

Majestic said that Lay & Wheeler, a family-owned company, has been "synonymous with high quality wines" for over 150 years and has "deep expertise" in the fields of fine wine sourcing, en primeur sales, portfolio management, cellarage and broking.

In the year to March 2008, the company made an aggregate profit before tax of GBP0.5m.

The purchase will allow Majestic to offer its customers a "complete fine wine service" from the vineyard through to storage, cellar management and then secure delivery to their home, or sale within the wider fine wine market.

"Given the clear and continuing appetite of our customers for fine wine, Lay & Wheeler is an extremely good fit with Majestic," said Majestic's CEO, Steve Lewis. "This acquisition will allow us to greatly extend this important offering and help continue the Majestic growth story."

The acquisition, which is being funded by a new term loan arranged with Barclays Bank, is expected to be earnings enhancing for Majestic in its first full year.