- Published on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:15
- Written by Harpers editorial team
Independent wine merchants are becoming increasingly agitated by what they see as Majestic's "disgraceful" promotional tactics to take more of their market share.
As the 181-strong chain continues to expand its retail estate across the country, it is coming more in competition with wine merchants concerned by its move into their core wholesale and restaurant business.
Ted Sandbach of the Oxford Wine Company was particularly critical of what he sees as Majestic's aggressive promotional strategy, with heavy discounts for customers who buy two of a particular wine. "It is a disgrace. They are trying to fool the public," he argued, adding he had seen a marked increase in Majestic's activity in the traditional wholesale arena.
Greg Sherwood MW of Handford Wines added: "Majestic really is more of a problem now. It is definitely a growing concern and we are seeing more Majestic buyers at more tastings of our suppliers than we would have a year ago."
He said Majestic's discounting strategy was potentially having a knock-on effect on the reputations of suppliers also looking to serve the independent sector.
Majestic's "model of selling wine is a little lazy", he said, adding that "fine wine should never need to be discounted to move volumes".
He added that there will come a point when suppliers are forced to choose between Majestic and independents, unless suppliers can control the discounts. "Creative marketing and customer relations can sell as much wine as lazy ‘price high/sell low' style discounting."
Corks Out's Ruth Yates, which runs five stores in the north west and an expanding online arm, said: "We could waste our time moaning and complaining about Majestic and the supermarkets, but we should be using that time thinking about our own businesses."
Two Majestic stores have recently opened near her shops, but she says they haven't affected business. "I don't think we can get too upset about it - independents are offering something different. We don't need to compete.
"That's not to say I agree with what Majestic is doing - it offered 40% off Champagne Jacquart last week, but that just says to me it was charging too much in the first place. They're making changes but it's a bit of a desperate call, people don't want to buy full cases [of 12 or six] anymore."
Majestic declined to comment.