Sophisticated customers buying ever more expensive bottles of wine to please their palates meant warehouse chain Majestic announced a 17 per cent rise in half-year profits yesterday.
The group, which has 140 stores, said sales of wine bottles worth more than £20 continued to show good growth, boosting sales to £91 million in the last 26 weeks.
The average price of a bottle of wine purchased at Majestic is £5.85, but the retailer said strong demand and the introduction of dedicated fine wine display areas in 38 stores lifted sales of its £20-plus range by 17.5 per cent.
The average spend per transaction rose by £7 to £128, helping pre-tax profits to increase to £7.5 million from £6.5 million last year.
The group had been hit by a weak customer response in June and July, but a marketing promotion had pushed up growth to 6.4 per cent in the following months, a spokesman said.
Majestic chief executive Tim How said: "Whilst we expect the trading environment to continue to be challenging, we are well prepared for the important Christmas trading period."
He added that trading had been hit by the summer's floods, with two of Majestic's stores being cut off as a result of flooding.