By Jonathan Davies

Majestic Wine is to buy online rival Naked Wines in a deal worth £70 million.

The deal will combine Naked Wines' online presence with Majestic Wine's national network of stores. But the two will continue to operate as separate brands.

Naked Wines founder Rowan Gormley will take over as chief executive of the new company, after Majestic Wine boss Steve Lewis stepped down in February.

With Naked Wines' 300,000 customers and Majestic Wine's 640,000, the combined company will have a customer base of nearly one million people.

Jonathan Buxton, Partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance who advised on the deal, said: “The combination of Naked Wines’ robust growth track record and Majestic’s market leading positioning make this transaction an excellent strategic fit for both companies. The enlarged Majestic Wine Group will benefit from new CEO Rowan Gormley’s outstanding experience and industry expertise and help the business capitalise on supportive trends in the wine sector and the fast-growing ecommerce industry, both of which offer excellent growth opportunities.

"The UK’s premium wine segment is performing well as is the international direct to consumer market, with particularly strong growth in the US, a key area for the combined companies, while e-commerce is the fastest expanding retail market in Europe. The size of the UK’s ecommerce sector is forecast to increase by some 16% this year to close to £45 billion."