Majestic has appointed John Walden as its chair as it prepares to sell its core business to focus on Naked Wines.

Walden, the former boss of Home Retail and Argos, will join the business as chair-designate today. Incumbent Greg Hodder will step down after the business’ AGM in August and exit six months later after a handover period.

John walden

John Walden will be the next chair of Majestic and Naked Wines

Majestic has also appointed the president of its US Naked Wines division, Nick Devlin, to the new position of group chief operating officer, a role he will fulfil from California.

The business reported rising full-year sales today but swung to a pre-tax loss of £8.5m compared to the £8.3m pre-tax profit it racked up the previous year.

Group revenue grew 6.3% to £506.1m. Underlying sales were up 14.5% at Naked Wines to £178.4m and 1.9% up to £267.7m at Majestic Retail. Majestic Commercial returned to growth with sales up 1.8% to £44.1m with fine wine business Lay & Wheeler’s reported sales up 22.7% to £14.9m.

The business is preparing to sell its core Majestic division to focus on Naked Wines and expects the deal to be finalised in the summer. Waterstones owner Elliot Advisors is among the interested parties alongside rival investment companies OpCapita and Fortress.

Chief executive Rowan Gormley said: “In the very near future we intend to have one business model, operating under one brand, which is well-funded and has a clear focus on growth. With renewed focus on a single goal, we have reappraised the Naked opportunity and have decided that now is the time to put more fuel in the engine.

“As growth investment drives future contribution, we want to increase the rate of investment to maximise future value. We believe we have the model, the experience and the opportunity to accelerate investment, at our targeted payback, and in doing so dramatically increase future contribution and value.”

​Majestic appoints John Walden as chair as it swings to loss