Majestic closures and migration to Naked

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Alan Smeaton, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. Well, well, well, why am I not surprised? the final nail in the already sealed coffin of what was once an exciting part of the British wine landscape.
  2. Just like Oddbins ruined by those who managed it.
  3. Game over for 'Majestic' then. Such a shame. I won't bother going into Naked stores, but they clearly don't want customers like me anyway, so no loss.
    Thom Blach and Mark Carrington like this.
  4. Wonder how Lay & Wheeler that maybe more of us care about will be affected by this.

    Had been considering moving some of my stocks to Vinotheque Burton as part of the L&W scheme. What particularly appealed was the part withdrawal of cases and their free shipping to my nearest Majestic.
  5. I pick up wines stored with Vinotheque at our local Majestic. It's a very good service as well as being cheaper than home delivery. That's the only time I pop into Majestic these days and I rarely buy anything apart from the odd bottle of Albarino/ Godello.
    Adrian Wood and Nicos Neocleous like this.
  6. Such a shame. I have fond memories of Majestic going back to the mid-eighties. Is it too judgmental to say that they have gone over to the dark side in a sort of Laithwaites-esque manner?
  7. Thom and James said it in two. Agree with both 100%, although Majestic's decline does pre-date Naked.

    Majestic was central to my wine passion in the 1980s. I can remember going to my first ever Majestic Tasting (after a year or so as a mixed case customer). It was emphatically not a load of cheap New Zealand Sauvignons, but the 2005 vintage of Paul Jaboulet, from which I bought Les Jumelles, Thalabert, and several others. I bought some wonderful wines from Majestic. Wonderful proper Germans (until they sold out), the Geoffrey Roberts stash of Californians, Vega Sicilia, Musar, De Villaine, Leroy D'Auvenay and a lot of Bordeaux (including a magnificent 5 litre D'Angludet 1979, which was reduced at some point in the 1990s).

    But by the time we moved down here the company had become a metaphor for doubtful Champagne marketing and generally fewer wines of interest, and so I think I've only been into a majestic on average perhaps once a year in the past 20 years.

    Should we mourn them? Nostalgia suggests we do, yet I don't find myself mourning the equally seminal Oddbins. We currently have a lot of choice at whatever level we buy at, and to be honest most independents (at least, those outside of London) will have more to my taste in the £8 to £20 price range than Majestic seem to (there are dozens of wonderful wine shops all across the country now which didn't exist 15 or 20 years ago, and who are far more truly engaged with their customers than Majestic).

    Of course, I know I'm talking as if Majestic has gone to the wall. But for all sorts of reasons, they are indeed finished, for me. Like Ed, I won't be entering a Naked store.
    Charles Muttar and Thom Blach like this.
  8. We get the retailers we deserve!
  9. Do we? Majestic appear to have gone down the classic route of reducing the variety of interesting wines in their range, with the result that long standing customers go elsewhere, rather than simply stop buying. Management's loss is someone else's gain.
    Jonathan Hesford likes this.
  10. Sometimes we do, but in this case it was Majestic's constant drive to expand that led to the change in offering. Presumably that was driven by the stock market's need for growth rather than the original set of customers' needs.
  11. Presumably we'll see more Naked branded wines and less mainstream stuff as a result? The majority of their stuff I've tasted has ranged from grim to dull. A depressing thought.
  12. Even though my interest is fading on the wines they sell, I still visit my local one and pick up few bottles from time to time. With this latest transformation, I'm not sure.
  13. In the past I have bought wines from L&W (and have just bought some Rhone EP) and had then opted for the reduced cost of having it delivered to the store for collection. This is far cheaper than delivery, which is twice as much as most merchants. Hope something will be set up as a replacement.
  14. It will be a shame if they close, as they still offer an increasingly rare wine shop experience. But with supermarkets and on line merchants a high street shop will be a rare thing indeed,

    Just maybe it will leave an opening for an independent where they close, but I doubt it.
  15. My own impression is that, much like Oddbins, Majestic’s heyday was in the pre-internet commerce days when it acted as an ideal outlet for those people who were starting to get more interested in serious wine but were intimidated by the old school wine merchants of the day. Both businesses acted as educators without talking down to customers. These days plenty of potential wine enthusiasts get sucked in by the slick and cynical advertising of the snake oil salesmen. Even now when I respond to questions from relatives and acquaintances about where I buy wine and tell them I buy by the case from wine merchants, almost all assume it’s some kind of wine club arrangement.
  16. I think you have it, Richard. Ever since Majestic first got in trouble in the 1990s and hedge funds became involved there has been a need to satisfy investors through expansion. Through expansion came a dilution of the original brand and it also brought a need to stock wines available in sufficient volume to fill all those warehouses.

    On Russell’s point, I agree but maybe not in the way he means it. As an adventurous wine lover I have access to almost all the wines I want to buy here in the U.K. at the moment, due to a wine trade that is equally adventurous. Some of them are even ex-Majestic. So perhaps I get what I deserve, and perhaps Majestic’s remaining customers get what they deserve. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, though.

    That said, I am naturally concerned that the trade here will continue to thrive as any downturn in the economy always hits hospitality badly.
    Mahmoud Ali and Thom Blach like this.
  17. I am amazed by what one could buy in Majestic when I look twenty years back. Now that they don't have interesting wines, largely because there isn't spare interesting wine in a hugely wider world of demand for the good stuff, I suppose the bogus club option of Naked probably does make commercial sense.
    Anthony Taylor likes this.
  18. Think it makes perfect sense in today’s economic times to close really expensive retail outlets . Very hard to make a decent return with the intense competition from supermarkets and internet only merchants
    Alex Jagger likes this.
  19. When I first joined the old forum I asked a few questions about wine available locally to me and a couple of people suggested I try Majestic. At the time I'd only really been in D.Byrne's and T Wrights with most of my shopping being done online through TWS, so as you can imagine, I was used to quite a traditional service and choice.

    I went in with an open mind, but was very surprised to find that if I ruled out anything from a region which wasn't that months special offer and therefore over priced and also ruled out the sort of wines that to me would only be special occasion bottles due to price, I was actually left with very little choice. Even less than my local co-op really. Compare this to the choice I have in Byrne's in any price range and you can see why I left empty handed. I've been back a couple of times since and only bought once, with the wines being fine but unremarkable.

    I'm sure Majestic was once great, but that must have been a long time ago.
    Thom Blach likes this.
  20. The whole wine club idea seems very English, though doubtless it is no less popular in other countries. The young neophyte perhaps feels tutored as they begin their adventure (I bought one case from the Sunday Times Wine Club in the early 1980s, and was even lured to one of their wine fairs by Hugh Johnson being there), but perhaps more pertinently, they provide a warm and snug home for the older drinker. My mother and a good few of her village neighbours either are or have been Laithwaites customers. I've since discovered my responsibilities in providing (free) wine for that particular octogenarian. I did so because I genuinely believed she was getting poor advice from telephone sales people whose grasp of wine knowledge appeared, from what I was told, to be in inverse proportion to their ability to talk wonderful marketing prose. That, and the fact that my mother is of an age where she doesn't really want to be drinking 14.5% Aussie Shiraz or equally alcoholic and tannic Ribera del Duero.

    Of course, before I slag off those wine merchants whose whole modus operandi appears to be based on a marketing strategy and sometimes frustratingly dubious sales patter, I suppose we all fall for it. Expensive Bordeaux and Burgundy, natural wines, everything is marketed to us. We just believe our £50 bottles of Saint-Aubin 1er Cru are so much better than £4 bottles of La Mancha.
    Leon Marks, Peter May and Thom Blach like this.
  21. £50 St. Aubin 1er Cru?! o_O:eek: PM me, now. :p ;)
    Leon Marks likes this.
  22. Only yesterday my fifteen year old daughter commented that she was surprised that Majestic shops are still going. As she put it,”If you’re not interested in wine you will go to the supermarket, if you are interested you will go to a wine merchant”.
  23. Well, what I'm thinking of does have a P, and a M, in it, th a YC in between, though tbh the money was OTTOMH as the last time I bought any it was more like £32 :cool::rolleyes:
  24. Isn't it just an inevitable part of the current move away from physical shops to on-line retailing, as Keith says?
    Keith Prothero likes this.

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