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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Majestic Wine bucked the trend for disappointing high street sales this Christmas with strong trading results for the festive period, and also announced that founder John Apthorp would retire from his position as chairman. The wine-by-the-case retailer said like-for-like sales across its 120 warehouses were up 10.4% for the nine weeks from 2 November 2004 to 3 January 2005. Chief executive Tim How said wines from Bordeaux, Italy, Chile and New Zealand sold very well and sales of Champagne grew strongly'. The 24% growth in Champagne sales over the period highlights the importance of the product to Majestic - it now constitutes a fifth of the company's turnover. How also highlighted the success of Majestic's growing fine wine arm. Our programme of trading people up to more expensive wines is going well, with sales of wines at more than 20 a bottle up 60% year on year.' Apthorp will retire at the next AGM on 5 August 2005, when he will be 70. He will be replaced as chairman by Simon Burke, a former chairman of toy shop Hamley's, who has been a non-executive director of Majestic since 2000. Trading director Tony Mason is also retiring this year. Apthorp and his family currently own 40% of the shares despite selling 17% of their shares in June 2003. According to a Majestic spokesperson it is unlikely that he will sell off his entire share holding on retirement: As the founder of the company he would not do anything to damage the company and will listen to the board's wishes.'