Conviviality has confirmed it is in discussion with a number of parties interested in the purchase of the Retail business, which includes Bargain Booze, Bargain Booze Select Convenience and Wine Rack.
On Wednesday, Dublin-based C&C Group, which owns the Magners and Tennent’s brands among others, completed the acquisition of the Matthew Clark and Bibendum on-trade distribution operations, and now owns 100% of the share capital of Matthew Clark Bibendum.
The acquisition is understood to be ring-fenced, separating it from any subsequent administration or sale of Conviviality Retail. Conviviality plc previously announced it would appoint administrators within two weeks from 28 March, although secure creditors can appoint administrators at any time. Reports indicate that administrators could be called in as early as tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Conviviality-affiliated retailers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation. One franchisee said a lack of communication from head office had been particularly disheartening. He said he hoped to hear more from Conviviality this week but at the moment there had been little information.
Davinder Parhar, owner of Bargain Booze Select Convenience in Daventry, Northamptonshire, has decided to cut all ties with Conviviality. A combination of poor communication and availability problems has forced him to make his own plans.
He said: “I’ve had no update at all from head office. I was due an £8,000 order this week and only received about two grand’s worth. The stock has steadily been going down over the last few months.
“I’ve been having to top up on items at the cash and carry but I don’t think there is any truth in the rumours that stores are being forced to close. I heard through the grapevine that Bargain Booze is allowing some retailers to miss their cash flow payments to try and help.”
Davinder also hopes that Conviviality will reveal more information about their administration this week but the news may be too late.
“I have handed in my notice,” he said. “I’m lucky, unlike most retailers, that my lease was coming up and I’ve decided to move on. I think it’s for the best.
“I’m staying in retail and looking to join another fascia. I’ve been speaking with Nisa but I’m looking at all the options. My store isn’t like most Bargain Booze - we do a lot of chilled food and takeaway items.”
He added: “It’s just about finding one that’s right for our store, especially with all the consolidation going on. It’s been a very interesting year.”
This story was updated at 17.59 on 4/4/18.