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Talks go on in bid to save Oddbins

By John Corser | Business | Published:

Talks are taking place between the former owner of Oddbins and administrators to save the troubled wine retailer and secure the future of hundreds of workers.

An Oddbins store

Advanced talks are taking place between entrepreneur Raj Chatta and insolvency firm Duff & Phelps over a deal to rescue the firm’s remaining stores.

It is understood that 13 Oddbins outlets, mainly based in London, have shut their doors since the business first entered administration in February. A deal to secure the future of the business will also see a number of its former locations sold to help stabilise its financial future.

The company has continued to trade as a going concern for the past four months as rescue talks took place. Oddbins was founded by entrepreneur Ahmed Pochee in London in 1963, after starting the firm by delivering wine to clubs and restaurants in the capital.

Mr Chatta’s Walsall-based European Food Brokers, which bought Oddbins out of administration in 2011, appointed administrators for its retail operation, made up of more than 100 Oddbins, Wine Cellar and Whittards Wine Merchants stores.

The parent group and its drinks distribution business did not enter administration.

EFB blamed the collapse on “extremely tough” trading conditions, but its owner is seeking to take it back from the hands of administrators after offloading stores.

Duff & Phelps said that Oddbins was a victim of tough times on the High Street, with a decline in consumer spending, and surging business rates and rents.

Oddbins’ administration comes amid a tough period for booze retailers, with Majestic Wine currently fielding bids for its retail store business after sliding to an £8.5 million loss in the last full-year.

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Majestic Wine is set to rebrand as Naked Wines as it pivots its focus towards its digital retail arm, as consumers continue to buy online at the expense of the high street.

Last year, fellow off licence retailer Bargain Booze was sold to grocery wholesaler Bestway after its parent company Conviviality collapsed into administration.

When Oddbins went into administration, putting 550 jobs at risk, it was the second time that the business, which operates 101 off-licences and two convenience stores under a variety of brands, had collapsed in eight years.

There are no Oddbins sites in the West Midlands.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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