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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 5th Apr 2024 - Majestic acquires Vagabond Wines
Majestic acquires Vagabond Wines: Majestic, the UK’s largest specialist wine retailer, has bought Vagabond Wines out of administration. The deal saves nine of the 12 wine bars from closure and 171 jobs. The sites in London’s Battersea Power Station, Charlotte Street, Fulham, Monument, Northcote Road, Paddington, Shoreditch and Victoria as well as its Birmingham outlet are included in the deal. Vagabond’s sites at Canary Wharf and its two sites at Gatwick Airport, are not part of the acquisition. Majestic stated: “The partnership with Vagabond will further support Majestic’s growth strategy by building on its existing customer base and allowing it to engage with a younger demographic of wine consumers. Majestic plans to invest in the long-term future of the Vagabond business, with ambitions to open more wine bars, leverage Majestic’s CRM capability, and further develop both companies’ offerings of Wine and Spirit Education Trust qualifications for colleagues and customers.” Vagabond was founded as a single wine shop in Fulham and has since grown to 12 sites. Its bars offer more than 100 high-quality wines by the glass, which customers order using innovative tap-and-pour self-serve wine machines. Vagabond’s bars also host a number of regular events, including cheese and wine masterclasses, and are available for corporate bookings. Majestic said the Vagabond deal “represents another vote of confidence” from itself and its investor, Fortress Investment Group, in the future of experiential retail and hospitality offerings. The partnership will further accelerate the growth trajectory Majestic has been on since it was acquired by Fortress in December 2019. During the past four years, and with the backing of its investor, Majestic has opened 16 new stores, employed hundreds of new colleagues, invested heavily in the training and development of its people and supplied thousands of premium hospitality venues through its business-to-business division, Majestic Commercial. Majestic chief executive John Colley said: “We are delighted to have secured this partnership with Vagabond Wines and are looking forward to working with the team to share our collective passion, expertise and love of wine. The completion of this deal marks the start of a long-term partnership and we are committed to investing in the Vagabond business, with the potential to open new wine bars across the UK when the right opportunities arise. The combination of the two businesses presents exciting new opportunities for us to grow our customer base, take the Majestic brand to a younger audience and further elevate Vagabond’s product proposition by working alongside our fast-growing on-trade supply division, Majestic Commercial.” Vagabond managing director Matt Fleming added: “In Majestic, we believe we have found the perfect partner to enhance the unique strengths of the Vagabond business and drive a new phase of profitable growth. Vagabond’s bars help our customers discover unique, quality wines in a highly experiential setting – values that align perfectly with what Majestic’s colleagues do every single day in their stores. We are looking forward to working with the Majestic team to accelerate our expansion, and help even more wine consumers to discover new and interesting wines.” Propel revealed in March that Vagabond had been put up for sale with Quantuma advising the business, with the performance of Vagabond understood to have come under increasing pressure over the past 12 months. As well as its London, Birmingham and Gatwick sites, Vagabond also operated a site at Heathrow airport. Opened in May 2022, the Heathrow site was described by the business as a “game changer” but is “temporarily closed” due to reconfiguring of the security zone, and was also not included in the deal. The sites at Gatwick, which opened last year, is believed to have failed to meet expectations. Turnover for the year ended 31 March 2023 stood at circa £16m with consolidated Ebitda of circa £722,000. In January, Propel revealed that Stephen Finch, founder of Vagabond, had left the business, but it is thought that he may return to the sector with a new venture. Finch founded Vagabond in 2009, building it into, at one time, a 13-strong, award-winning “DIY” wine bar business. He secured £3.5m of growth capital investment from Imbiba in 2018.

Premium Club members to receive next New Openings Database and videos from Propel Multi-Club Conference today: The next Propel New Openings Database and the videos from Propel’s March Multi-Club Conference will be sent to Premium Club members today (Friday, 5 April). The database will show the details of 54 site openings, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis and Premium Club members will also receive a 3,300-word report on the 54 new additions to the database. Premium Club members will also receive all the videos from the recent Propel Multi-Club Conference at 9am today. They will include Marcello Distefano, managing director of restaurant group San Carlo, speaking about the challenges of building and evolving a premium casual-dining business; and Charlie Elek, managing director of Lucky Voice,setting out how the company is taking a unique approach to evolving its offer. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the New Openings Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database and the Who’s Who of UK Hospitality. Plus, all members will be offered a 20% discount on tickets to five Propel paid-for events – The Excellence in Pub Retailing Conference (14 May), Social Media for Profit (18 July), the Talent and Training Conference (1 October) and Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025). Operators are also able to send up to four members of staff to each of our four Multi-Club Conferences for free. Premium Club members receive their daily Propel Info newsletter 11 hours earlier than standard subscribers, at 7pm the evening before. They also receive videos of presentations at eight Propel conference events two weeks after they are held. This represents around 100 videos of industry insight over the course of the year. Premium Club members will be sent a dedicated monthly newsletter that will highlight key updates in the sector and direct subscribers to all the vital content their membership offers. Premium Club members also receive exclusive opinion columns every Friday at 5pm, which include the thoughts of Propel group editor Mark Wingett and a host of industry leaders from across the sector. A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to sign up.

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