170 jobs saved as Majestic acquires wine bar chain

Majestic, the UK’s largest specialist wine retailer, has bought Vagabond Wines out of administration, saving nine of its 11 wine bars from closure. 

The deal has safeguarded 171 jobs after the pour-your-own wine chain went into administration last month after suffering from pandemic-related debts and the loss of its Heathrow venue.

Vagabond’s Birmingham store has been saved, but its underperforming Canary Wharf bar will close and two Gatwick sites are not part of the deal.

Stephen Finch, who left Vagabond at the beginning of the year established the brand in one bar in Fulham in 2009. 

It now joins Majestic’s portfolio of 208 stores across the UK with more than 1,000 staff trained through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). 

Majestic says it 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 develop both companies’ offerings of Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualifications for colleagues and customers.

Majestic CEO 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 said: “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.”

Founded in 1980 and initially trading as Majestic Vintners, the company had floated on the UK stock exchange in 1996 and merged with Naked Wines in 2015. Majestic passed back into private ownership in 2019, separating from Naked Wines following its sale to Fortress Investment Group.

Quantuma managing director and joint administrator Andrew Andronikou said, “I am delighted to have been able to secure the long term future of the Vagabond brand. The investment it will receive through its new strategic partnership with Majestic will drive forward its next phase of profitable growth.”