Majestic buys Lay & Wheeler

Majestic has bought family-owned fine wine specialist Lay & Wheeler.

The chain said the acquisition will allow it to offer customers a full fine wine service from the vineyard through to storage, cellar management and secure delivery to their home, or sale within the wider fine wine market.

Chief executive Steve Lewis said: "Given the clear and continuing appetite of our customers for fine wine, Lay & Wheeler is an extremely good fit with Majestic. This acquisition will allow us greatly to extend this important offering and help continue the Majestic growth story."

Majestic has introduced fine wine display areas into more than a third of its stores over the past few years, and has achieved strong sales in wines priced £20 and over.

Lay & Wheeler was founded in 1854 and has been in the Wheeler family since 1883. It is a specialist in fine wine sourcing, en primeur sales, managing private reserves and fine wine trading.

The Suffolk-based independent merchant and online and mail order wine shop will continue operating at its home in Holton St Mary.

Johnny Wheeler, the only family representative in the business, will become president of Lay & Wheeler, while Majestic's commercial director Jeremy Palmer has been promoted to become managing director of Lay & Wheeler.

Wheeler said: "This is an exciting move both for me and for Lay & Wheeler. Majestic is the ideal partner to take our business on to the next level."

Lay & Wheeler made an aggregate pre-tax profit of £500,000 in the year to March 2008, and is expected to start making money for Majestic in its first full year.