(Reuters) - Britain's Majestic Wine Plc is exploring a sale of its retail and commercial operations in the country, Sky News reported, adding that it appointed investment bank Rothschild to seek potential buyers.
The company, one of Britain's best-known wine merchants, said last month it would sell some assets, close stores and review its dividend to focus on its growth engine, Naked Wines, as it seeks to fend off competition from discount markets and online rivals.
However, the company did not specify then that it would divest its entire British retail business, which comprises of about 200 stores.
The company has reached out to private equity firms in the last couple of weeks to scope interest for a possible acquisition of the divisions, Sky News said citing sources.
Majestic Wine was not immediately available for comment.
Majestic, which has over one million customers in Britain, the United States and Australia, has been struggling in recent years due to tough competition from discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl UK, and online rivals offering cheaper wines.
Majestic, which plans to rename itself Naked Wines Plc, bought the online retail business in 2015 and has since more than doubled its size.
The company also operates Majestic Retail - the largest specialist wine retailer in Britain; Majestic commercial, which supplies wine to business; and Lay and Wheeler, a specialist fine wine merchant.
Majestic has also been trying to grow its business outside Britain as the country readies to quit the European Union, with online sales accounting for about 45 percent of its business and 20 percent coming from its international business.
(Reporting by Justin George Varghese and Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)