Costcutter owner Bibby Retail Services has purchased Yorkshire off-licence chain Rhythm & Booze in a pre-pack administration deal.

The chain, previously owned by the Swaine family, had got into cashflow difficulties after recent expansion which included the purchase of 34 outlets from the former First Quench retail estate. With administration a certainty, Bibby arranged a pre-pack deal which saw the group purchase all 68 stores from administrators Ernst & Young without any of the debt.

Bibby Retail Services director Nick Ivel, who is also chief executive of Costcutter, told C-Store that the deal means that the brand name and all 425 staff jobs are now safe. “Martin Swaine and his late father Ronnie were original members of Costcutter so we know the family well, and our first concern was to keep the business running,” he said. “The stores are perfectly viable and we will be able to give them the backing to enable them to capitalise on what should be a good summer for off licences with the Jubilee, Euro championships and Olympics.”

Ivel confirmed that the stores would remain off-licence based, although the link with Costcutter will enable them to offer a wider range of convenience lines. The group also aims to use the Rhythm & Booze warehouse to provide both chains with increased access to promotional deals and develop R&B’s wholesale business, although Ivel insisted that this would not mean any reduction in volumes going through Nisa.

In addition, Ivel said that the Rhythm & Booze brand name could be available to independent retailers wishing to operate off-licences as a franchise.

“We are still looking to add further company-owned stores to our estate,” Ivel added.