Ailing Vagabond wine bars rescued by Majestic

Vagabond wine bars have been bought out of administration by Majestic, marking the largest UK wine retailer’s entry into the hospitality market.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, secures the future of nine Vagabond venues – eight in London and one in Birmingham – employing 171 staff. The company’s two outlets at Gatwick airport and its Canary Wharf branch are not included in the deal, while the Heathrow outlet closed earlier this year.

Vagabond was founded in 2010, using an Enomatic self-pour system allowing customers to sample from a choice of up to 100 wines. Branches offer a food menu of European-style small plates and sharing boards, while the Battersea venue also incorporates an urban winery, .

Founder Stephen Finch left the business in January and it entered administration last month amid reportedly interest from Breal, the investment company that last year acquired D&D London.

Majestic, which was launched in 1980 as a wine warehouse in Haringay, is now Britain’s biggest specialist wine retailer, having enjoyed a boom with its home delivery service under the Covid lockdown. In 2019 it was acquired by New York-based Fortress Investment Group, which was itself acquired in May last year by the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, controlled by Sheikh Mansour, owner of Manchester City football club and would-be owner of the Daily Telegraph.

John Colley, Majestic CEO, 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.

Matt Fleming, Vagabond managing director, 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.”

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