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Online spending rises at Majestic Wine

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Majestic Wine customers are increasingly buying their wine over the internet, and paying more when they do so, the retailer said today.

The company, which published its full-year results this morning, said ecommerce orders were now worth 10.2% of its total UK retail sales, and that internet shoppers spent an average of £142 per order, up from £139 last year.

Online sales grew by 9.6% in all, with the number of orders rising to 175,000, up by 9.4% on the previous year.

Majestic’s group-wide sales rose to £257.3m, a 10.3% jump compared to the same time last year. Pre-tax profits grew by 26.6% to £20.3m, in the year to March 28. Like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of new store openings and closures, were up by 5.3%.

Majestic said its ecommerce operation was important not just for taking online orders, but also for informing and entertaining shoppers before they buy. Steve Lewis, chief executive, (pictured) said: “We bring the personality of Majestic online through video content, staff blogs and posting customer reviews of our products.”

Online content is also managed at a local level, with staff free to publish pieces that are interest to the local store and customer base. Each store has a Twitter feed and its own store pages on the site. An online tasting counter, updated each day, shows customers what is available to taste in their local store.

Its online approach ties in with its aim of bringing customers into the stores. Free courses on wine and wine tasting evenings work towards Majestic’s strategy of encouraging customers’ interest in wine.

The company said its sales of fine wine, defined as costing £20 a bottle or more, were up by 23.7% last year, and now represented 6% of UK store sales. “It is our highly educated staff and their impressive product knowledge which is the key to our continued growth in this area,” said Lewis. “Customers value the advice that we provide and trust our staff’s wine recommendations.”

Majestic currently has 165 stores in the UK and now plans to expand to at least 330 stores.

While online orders and transaction values are up, across the group the average spend per transaction fell by 2.5% to £126. However, the number of sales rose by 12.5% to 2m.

Growth also came in Majestic Commercial, where sales to business customers rose by 17.2% and now account for 24.2% of total UK sales.

Lewis said: “We are very encouraged that all parts of the business are showing good progress. Whilst economic conditions remain difficult, we believe that Majestic is well positioned for future growth.”

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