Majestic names Oasis finance boss as new CFO

UK drinks retailer Majestic has named Alex Jablonowski as its new chief financial officer.

John Colley, the retailer’s new chief executive officer, said Jablonowski brings “a wealth of experience to Majestic”, having worked in a range of international, multi-site retail businesses including Oasis, Hamleys, Tesco, and Costa Coffee.

He joins Majestic from his role as CFO at fashion retailer Oasis Warehouse, a job he secured after leaving his post at British toyshop Hamleys earlier than expected in 2018.

“I am sure his background in helping to build business strategies, at the very top level with previous private equity experience, will be hugely beneficial in order to create value and growth to this company.”

The news comes after a number of new appointments at the wine retailer, following its sale to private equity firm Fortress, which is owned by Japan’s Softbank, for £95 million in August.

Majestic also recently revealed the recruitment of a HR Director, Suzanne Kielty, and the promotion of Robert Cooke to Chief Commercial Officer.

Commenting on the current job changes, Colley said the board now has a “range of expertise…with specialists in retail, wine, HR and developing our multi-channel capability. I am confident that we’ve built the right team for the challenges, and opportunities, of the future.”

Jablonowski said it is an “exciting stage in the businesses’ 40 year history. I believe we have all the ingredients here to be one of the long term success stories of UK retail. I can’t wait to get started and meet my colleagues both in the office and out on the shop floor.”

Majestic reported strong Q3 UK sales on the back of good trading during Christmas and New Year, in which like-for-likes rose 4.3%. Sparkling wines performed particularly well, with Crémant sales up 32%, and Champagne rising 11%, and English fizz growing 9%. Spirits-wise, rum and brandy showed strong sales as well, growing by 24% and 33% respectively.

Jablonowski, who had been the head of finance at Tesco, was drafted in as Hamleys’ CFO in 2017 to help turn the company around in tough high street conditions. However, faced with soaring business rates and a drop in consumer spending, the retailer swung to one of its worst losses since its foundation in 1760 – a £12 million loss in 2017 compared to a £2.6 million profit the year before – and was forced to close a number of stores. Jablonowski left Hamleys with “immediate effect” in October 2018.

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