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Majestic Wine CEO steps down

Majestic Wine CEO Steve Lewis has stepped down from his role with “immediate effect”, it has been announced.

Outgoing Majestic CEO Steve Lewis

Announcing the changes this morning, Majestic said it was “entering a crucial stage of its development” that will require “leadership commitment and continuity”.

Given that Lewis has already served 29 years in the business, 16 years on the board and six years as chief executive, the board said now was “the best time to clarify the timing of his succession.”

Nigel Alldritt, Majestic Wine finance director, will take over the position of interim CEO until a permanent replacement for Lewis is found.

Lewis’ departure follows what was a challenging Christmas trading period which saw the UK wine merchant’s margins take a hit over Christmas as it battles to keep pace with supermarket rivals.

While the group reported a 1.1% rise in like-for-like sales across its 211 UK stores between 28 October and 5 January, its share price plummeted by over 13% as analysts downgraded their 2015 profit forecasts.

It followed the company’s 10.5% dip in pre-tax profits for the first six months of its 2014/15 year, which the retailer attributed largely to the cost of moving to its new warehouse.

Phil Wrigley, Majestic Wine chairman said: “Steve has made a huge contribution to Majestic Wine during his time with the business. By combining his significant leadership and retailing skills with his determination, dedication and sheer hard work he successfully rose through the ranks from graduate trainee manager in our Clapham store to Chief Executive. He took the helm in 2008 in the midst of the credit crunch and subsequent recession and successfully steered the business through very difficult times. He leaves the business today in good shape, with sales up 41% and profit up 42% during his time as chief executive, and with the business well positioned for the next phase of its development.”

The search for a permanent replacement has already started with further announcements to be made in due course.

Outgoing chief executive Steve Lewis, added: “I believe Majestic Wine is in great shape with a clear purpose – to inspire everyone to discover and explore the magic of wine. The business is entering a busy and exciting next phase and now is the right time to hand over to a new leader. I wish everyone at Majestic Wine all the best for the future.”

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