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Bargain Booze to go into administration

After announcing in March that it was going into administration, Bargain Booze may have hope for its 2,600 staff after moving closer towards a sell-out deal. Parent brand Conviviality, which also owns Wine Rack, WS Retail and the Select Convenience store chain, is in talks with Bestway to sell its Bargain Booze and Wine Rack businesses for £7m.

If the sale goes ahead with wholesaler Bestway, 2,000 jobs across the chain of stores are expected to be saved. Bestway is one of the largest food wholesale businesses in the UK and the owner of the Well pharmacy high street brand.

C&C, which owns Magners Cider amongst other brands, recently purchased Conviviality’s wholesale business. These deals were carried out via a process overseen by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The so-called pre-pack administration process lets assets be sold before administrators are officially appointed to manage a corporate bankruptcy. This means buyers can identify attractive and profitable sections of a broadly failing business and take them on, rather than needing to absorb the accompanying liabilities in a loss-making position.

Investors in Conviviality were shocked when the administration plans were announced following news of a profit warning and a tax bill of £30m that had gone unpaid. Diana Hunter, the CEO, resigned and the company failed to raise a £125m rescue funding pot.

News of a last-minute successful sale of Bargain Booze will certainly come as a relief to employees, suppliers and investors alike. The high street has seen a number of big brands go into administration in recent years, proving that the high street is still a challenging place to do business, especially with the growth of online rivals.

Small retail brands can still do very well in the changing shopping climate by investing in excellent systems and technologies that enable them to offer seamless service, well-priced and quality products, and an enhanced programme of engagement and targeted marketing.

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