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Naked Wines to rebrand and focus on online following Majestic sale

UK specialist wine retailer Majestic Wine has been sold to US investment firm Fortress for £95 million.

The sale, which includes the Majestic Wines website, bricks and mortar stores, headquarters and French divisions, will allow Majestic Wines to focus on its online-only subscription service Naked Wines, which it acquired in 2015.

The company plans to rebrand Naked Wines and list it as a standalone plc on the London Stock Exchange.

“I am delighted that we have managed to secure an independent future for both Naked and Majestic Retail and Commercial, allowing both companies to pursue growth by focusing on their unique propositions,” Rowan Gormley, CEO of Majestic Wine, said.

“I would like to thank all staff, customers and suppliers for their loyalty during this process. We look forward to the future and continuing to focus on what we do best… sharing our spectacular wines from our hundreds of talented winemakers with our customers!”

Reuters reported that Majestic has been struggling with competition from discounters and online rivals.

“We want to keep investing in our stores, in our people and our product – everything you can feel, touch and sip,” Majestic Wine’s managing director Joshua Lincoln said

“After all, you cannot taste wine online.”

The UK wine business expects the sale to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2019, with the finances to clear the group’s debt and investment in Naked Wines.

Majestic Wines will also return £3.8m to the shareholders with a special dividend of 5.2p per share.

In April 2019, bankers at Rothschild dealt with several private equity firms on behalf of the retailer to buy its British bricks-and-mortar business which includes around 200 stores.

Naked Wines founder, South African entrepreneur Rowan Gormley, told investors in March that Majestic Wine would present a transformation plan in June.

This story first appeared on sister site InsideFMCG.

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