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Majestic Wine acquires Lay & Wheeler

Majestic Wine PLC (‘Majestic’), the UK’s largest wine warehouse chain with 147 stores, is pleased to announce the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Vinotheque Holdings Limited and WBI Holdco Limited (and its subsidiaries WBI Limited and Lay & Wheeler Limited), collectively known as Lay & Wheeler.

Lay & Wheeler made an aggregate profit before tax of £0.5m in the year to March 2008. The acquisition is expected to be earnings enhancing for Majestic in its first full year.

Lay & Wheeler, a family owned company, has been synonymous with high quality wines for over 150 years and has deep expertise in the specialist fields of fine wine sourcing, en primeur sales, portfolio management, cellarage and broking.

As a fine wine specialist Lay & Wheeler offers the storage of customers’ wines under bond. Wines are kept in optimum storage conditions with duty and VAT being deferred until the wines are removed from bond. As the fine wine industry deals predominantly in wines under bond, this gives Lay & Wheeler and its customers access to the wider market and strengthens customer relationships.

Over recent years Majestic has successfully introduced fine wine display areas into over a third of its stores and has achieved strong growth in sales of wines, at £20 and above, that are ready to drink. The acquisition of Lay & Wheeler allows Majestic to offer its customers a complete fine wine service from the vineyard through to storage, cellar management and then secure delivery to their home, or sale within the wider fine wine market.

Steve Lewis, Chief Executive of Majestic Wine PLC 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.”

Johnny Wheeler, the only family representative within the business, moves to the position of President of Lay & Wheeler. Jeremy Palmer, who has until now been Majestic Commercial Director, is promoted to become Managing Director of Lay & Wheeler.

Lay & Wheeler will continue to operate from its current base in Holton St Mary, Suffolk.

Johnny Wheeler commented,

“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.”