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Majestic rues death of the booze cruise

Majestic Wine, Britain’s biggest wine warehouse, has blamed a 56% slump in profits on the demise of the Channel-hopping booze cruise.

The wine merchant posted pre-tax profits of £7.4million in the year to 30 March, compared to £16.7m the previous year.

It also wrote down the value of Wine and Beer World, its French business, by £5.3m, pointing out that the weak pound was discouraging UK residents from travelling to France in search of cheaper booze.

Majestic has also closed its distribution depot in Calais and moved some jobs from France to the UK.

On a slightly more positive note for the off-trade, the growing trend for consumers to entertain at home rather than go out saw sales rise by 2.4% to £201.8m and in the ten weeks to 8 June, after the end of the financial year, like-for-like sales saw a 2% increase.

Steve Lewis, chief executive of Majestic Wine, said: “What’s happening is that people are entertaining more at home and drinking wine more at home. People are watching their spend, but wine is a part of everyday life now.”

The news follows last week’s warning by First Quench Group , the owner of Thresher’s, over its ability to continue as a going concern amid the tough trading environment.

Alan Lodge, 15.06.2009 

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