01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

RIP Majestic


Thinking back to when I first went to Majestic (1980’s - Sancerre was a thing), they offered much more interesting wines than the supermarkets, especially new-world, while being firmly mid-market. It worked as a business model & I enjoyed exploring the variety of wines. Oddbins were similar and perhaps better quality.

Now the supermarkets thoroughly cover those aspects of the market, and TWS are unbeatable online. There’s no reason to go to MJ, and a brief exploration of Naked was a let-down.

So I dont quite see what Naked / MJ can do now with wine retailing? unless they truly go global online and then sell the operation for a quick buck. I can see a US or OZ supermarket group being interested in that.


The actual wine quality perhaps isn’t a bar to the business being successful - I’ve not heard anyone say much good about the wine sold by Laithwaites/Sunday Times/Virgin either, but it’s a very successful business model. My colleague, for example, is perfectly happy just getting a monthly case of boring ‘big reds’ delivered by Laithwaites. Maybe Naked can fill a niche for consumers who take a similar approach, but want to feel a bit like cognoscenti?


I think Majestic tried this approach with their Wine Concierge scheme, which sounds a bit like our own Wines Without a Fuss. I don’t know how successful it has been - but I received lots of leaflets from them about it- reminding me how special I was and why I’m worthy of this service, which - needless to say- had an air of desperation about it.


Not my experience. My local store use their computer system to find out which stores have the item I want, rings them and gets it delivered.

As I understand it, Majestic stores are the company’s warehouses - there’s no central warehouse and since no one store can carry the whole range all the time they have an effective system to move stock from store to store as needed,


I joined their Concierge scheme, and that put me off the whole idea. I was ‘over-promoted’ their Definition range, and what was on offer for the second round was decidedly uninteresting. Back to TWS.


…using DPD and Yodel!


Real shame. My local store are enthusiastic and very convenient and I get quite a bit from them.

Naked’s model when they started of financing small independent creative winemakers seemed good but as they became successful it seemed small makers couldn’t produce enough to meet Naked’s size so now we see output from large wineries.

Not mentioned is Majestic’s commercial division, selling wine to on-licenses, sometimes with different labels so drinkers cannot compare prices


Was this a while ago?

There was a wine I wanted in December for Christmas, they didn’t have it in my local store, I emailed HQ who located a store that did have it but they were not able to deliver direct to me or to the store. They just flat out said neither option was possible, and they were very sorry.

As for naked even 6 years ago they were punting wine that I could buy in my local independent wine shop for the same price as their angel price. The waffle sounds good, the reality is very different.


No, recently.

As I understand it if the store that has is is a distance from the store that wants it, the wine will be passed through intermediate stores, rather than delivered directly, so it can take a while.


Why does this matter? We have The Society, and this proves yet again the robustness of this co-operative business model.


It’s interesting to members what is going on elsewhere as many of us would have historically purchased wine at some point or another from Majestic.


It matters because it’s important that there is some choice, and dare I say it competition in the segment of the UK market in which both the WS and Majestic operate.

It’s concerning that the likes of Oddbins and Majestic have foundered in recent years, and while I think we all believe that the WS do a decent job, it’s good to have some external benchmarks.


I completely agree about external benchmarks. However, businesses must keep up with the times. I used to frequent Majestic and their local managers were usually really knowledgeable. Same could be said for Oddbins (who, incidentally, I thought had a better range and quality of wine)
Sadly their business models have come to the end of their time. I know it sounds ridiculously sychophantic to say it but the WS have kept up where others have not.
There will always be other suppliers of wine to provide that benchmark. I buy a lot from supermarkets I am ashamed to admit.
But I cannot say the loss of Majestic is of any concern to me. A couple of years down the line it won’t concern you either, I promise.


I’m trying to cut down on spending at the moment, The Society is great but it doesn’t stock everything and sometimes I see wines I want in other merchants too. I get the impression most other members on here buy from multiple sources too.

Disappointed that Majestic wouldn’t get the wine for me if they could have as peterm suggests, maybe the 2 stores I talked to were just not very proactive compared to others?


The timing of this request may have been the reason. I think Majestic try to cut down on the amount of inter “store runs” around Christmas time to have more staff on the shop floor rather than in vans. Just a thought?


Of course. It’s called a “free market”.
Anybody remember “Woolworths”? Folks of a certain age will do for certain, and probably with a bit of rose-tinted fondness. Could you really see them continuing in today’s high street? Not really. The same rules apply to every business.
If you want another wine supplier I recommend Averys. I have no affilliation to them, no shares, no connection, no underhand reason to promote them; they are just another wine merchant worth checking out that have been around for 220 years.


Who are of course a part of Laithwaites/Direct Wines/Virgin group


One of the reasons the DW group bought Averys was the fact it was an old (formed 18th Century) school provincial merchant with some good wine connections forged by Ronald and then John Avery. Lots of good wine on the list (speak as a former employee) especially in the classic regions, although more expensive in general than the W/S. As far as I know they are still run as a separate entity.

If anyone is in Bristol I’d recommend having a nose around Averys wine cellars!


I still get mails from BBR and Yapp that always have interesting wines I want.

Must not spend money right now though, which makes the society great as I can get a couple of nice bottles and fill the rest of the case up with cheaper bottles that are surprisingly good.


I think they’re doomed anyway. A “sell” for me at pretty much any price.
The supermarkets have pretty much taken the casual purchase business. M&S in particular have an excellent range. I’ve not had anyone recommend me anything from Majestic in several years, but lots from M&S, Waitrose.
They could have done more with their space to make it more of an experience, I guess (with in-store tasting events, etc) but even that would be a big ask with uncertain rewards.
A shame to lose the free delivery service from L&W, though.