(Bloomberg)—Majestic Wine Plc agreed to sell most of its stores to Fortress Investment Group LLC, as the U.K. drinks retailer retreats from shopping streets to focus on its Naked online brand.
Majestic said it’s selling shops and warehouses in the U.K. and France to a vehicle controlled by Fortress funds for 95 million pounds ($115 million), with a separate sale of remaining operations fetching 5 million pounds ($6.1 million). The move follows an activist campaign by Gatemore Capital Management, which owns 3.8% of the company.
The retailer four years ago acquired Naked Wines, a digital startup that asks customers to help fund the production of the wine it sells. Gatemore said in a statement that it saw more potential for that arm as a standalone entity independent from the traditional stores, known for selling wine by the case.
Naked operates in faster-growing markets, the company said, with U.S. sales increasing 21% in the year ended April 2019.
Majestic had said earlier this year that it planned to shut stores and focus investment in the online brand. It joined a series of U.K. retailers that are cutting back their bricks-and-mortar presence as online shopping expands and Brexit-related jitters hold down spending.
The company said proceeds of the sale will be used to pay down debt. Completion of the deal is expected in the fourth quarter.Favorite