Majestic Wine has reported pre-tax profit up 20% to £7.3m in its interim results as the specialist becomes more accessible to new customers.

For the 26 weeks ending September 27, total sales were up 10.2% to £117.6m. Like-for-like sales in the UK retail stores was up 7.6%. The increase in active customers was 14% to 496,000. The change to a six bottle minimum from 12 proved “extremely popular with existing customers and has also made Majestic more accessible to new customers”, the retailer said.

Chairman Phil Wrigley said: “I am delighted that, in my first statement as chairman, I am able to report that the management team has delivered excellent results. The group has made strong progress in the first half of the 2010/2011 financial year building on the momentum that we have seen since we reduced our minimum purchase requirement to six bottles in September of last year.”

Online sales were up 8.3% on last year and now represent 9.1% of UK retail sales. Sales of fine wine priced at £20 and above increased by 20.2% on last year. Number of transactions is also up 18.7% to 869,000, and average spend per transaction declined 7.2% to £122, owing to its halving of its minimum purchase requirement.

Majestic now operates 120 stores in the UK and aims to have at least 250 stores.

Current trade is also strong. For the six weeks to November 8, like-for-like sales in its UK stores were up 7.4%.

Wrigley said: “Although the consumer environment remains challenging we see good potential for the future growth of Majestic. We are well prepared for the important Christmas trading period.”