Oddbins administrators remain optimistic of sale

Tue, 10 Mar 2020 | BUSINESS SALE

Administrators of the parent company of high-street wine merchants Oddbins, Whittalls Wines Merchants and Wine Cellar Trading remain hopeful that a significant number of stores can be sold to a preferred bidder.

EFB Retail Ltd., Whittalls Wine Merchants 1 Ltd., Whittalls Wine Merchants 1 Ltd., and Wine Cellar Trading Ltd. have been trading under Duff & Phelps since entering administration in January 2019 citing Brexit, economic uncertainty and a poor Christmas trading period.

The companies were also affected by HMRC revoking the excise approval of parent company and chief supplier European Food Brokers Limited (EFBL), which lost its bonded warehouse, affecting cashflow.

The administrators identified 43 unprofitable stores, before closing 5 more, leaving 53 trading. A rescue plan involving the sale of some stores to an anonymous preferred buyer was drawn up last year.

In a notice filed last week, joint administrators Philip Duffy and Matthew Ingram said the proposed buyer had been informed the businesses will be wound down if the deal is not completed with the next month, stating that it was unfeasible to continue trading under administration indefinitely.

The administrators said that they remained hopeful of selling the stores to the preferred bidder and would still prefer to sell to a purchaser who would take a significant number of stores.

However, they added that there have been numerous offers to acquire stores on a piecemeal basis and that these interested parties could be approached in order to maximise returns for creditors.

The administration period has been extended until January 2021, but Duff & Phelps say they do not think they will still be trading the comapnies before the end of the next reporting period on August 29.

The administrators have forecast sufficient asset realisations to enable a distribution to be made to secured creditors, with £56,804 of £551,000 owed having been collected so far.

The companies’ gross sales stand at £24.9 million for the year to January 29, 2020. They held no freehold property at the time of administration, operating instead from 101 UK leasehold sites, with head offices in London and Walsall. Assets including four vehicles are also up for sale.

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