Booths has revamped its wine department as it ratchets up competition against rivals Majestic Wine and Marks & Spencer and faces a pivotal quarter’s trading.

The upmarket northern grocer has introduced tasting tables, new merchandising and a revamped own-label offer to its 28 stores. It has also improved the specifications and appearance of its wine.

Chairman Edwin Booth said: “We want to bring better service for people who want to become a wine merchant. This is underpinned by the relaunch of our own label supported by new suppliers, sourcing and presentation.”

However, Booth said the retailer is not interested in launching an online wine offer to rival its competitors including Morrisons’ new online wine offer. Booths closed its dedicated wine site,, in 2011.

The retailer reported a strong Christmas enjoying a 3.5% rise in like-for-like sales across the Christmas and Booth is eyeing a return to profit growth this year. Pre-tax profits fell to £5.9m in the year to March 31 2012 from £8.2m the previous year due to the pressure on trading margins and a one-off refinancing cost of £1m.

Booth said: “It will be a strong and profitable year. January has been quite flat but it often is. The weather has been appalling so like-for-likes have been difficult to measure.

“We expect to return a strong year. So much depends on this quarter. Christmas was satisfying but it’s this quarter that will make the difference.”

The retailer is also set to ignite a hunt to for a new retail director when David Benson retires from the position in March.