Last orders for Majestic Wine CEO after 16 years on the board

Majestic Wine has revealed that a “crucial stage” in its development has led to a change in personnel at the top, as it looks to develop its multichannel offering.

Lewis had served as CEO of Majestic Wine since 2008 and has been in the wine industry for the duration of his 27-year career – despite not drinking the beverage until he went to university.

Commenting on his move, Lewis said: “I believe Majestic Wine is in great shape with a clear purpose – to inspire everyone to discover and explore the magic of wine.

“The business is entering a busy and exciting next phase and now is the right time to and over to a new leader.”

In a statement, the business, which has been listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market since 1996, said it has already initiated a search for a replacement and a “thorough review of potential candidates is underway”.

During the company’s last trading statement, a seasonal one looking at Christmas sales between 28 October and 5 January, Lewis had said: “Majestic devilled like-for-like sales growth of 1.1 per cent in a difficult Christmas trading period characterised by promotional activity and we arena focused on delivering our final quarter’s trading. We anticipate this competitive pricing environment will continue throughout much of 2015.”

Majestic Wine has been hit by the supermarket pricing battle that has seen big retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons undercut each other by dropping the price of petrol, household vitals and alcohol.

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Phil Wrigley, the Majestic Wine chairman who will now be attending monthly operating board meetings, said Lewis has left the business in “good shape” with sales up 41 per cent and profit up 42 per cent during his tenure as CEO.

“By combining his significant leadership and retailing skills with his determination, dedication and sheer hard work he successfully rose through the ranks from graduate trainee management in our Clapham store to chief executive.

“He took the helm in 2008 in the midst of the credit crunch and subsequent recession and successfully steered the business through very difficult times.”

Interim CEO Phil Alldritt, who was finance director before, has had other responsibilities including IT and logistics.

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