Possible suitors for First Quench

06 November, 2009

The runners and riders: who’s in the frame


Part-owner Bibby is in an acquisitive mood, with cash already available to try to buy out the half of Costcutter it doesn’t already own.


In the throes of re-invention following last year’s takeover by Simon Baile, and already with enough on its plate to take on a loss-making business of such scale. The opportunity to take the upmarket Wine Rack part of the First Quench business, or a portion of it, could appeal.


Not really Majestic’s style, given the size and trading format. Much depends on how chief executive Steve Lewis feels he needs to make his mark as the white knight of the multiple specialists sector.

Gordon Brothers

Investment house that provides funding to a number of North American retail operations, including Canada’s Toys R Us.

Rhythm & Booze

Boss Martin Swaine has expressed interested in a batch of northern English stores, but not the whole lot.

Bargain Booze

Its franchise model doesn’t fit with the predominantly managed First Quench estate, but the backing of what is now the leading specialist off-licence group could be the best hope for the company in the long term. Migration of Threshers licensees to Bargain Booze is a possibility.


The days when Threshers was a big enough brand to be an attractive retail concession are gone, and property would be the main draw for those with convenience operations.

Management buyout

While it would be noble for a team of former execs to mount a rescue bid, even if suppliers bought into the strategy, they would still be faced with the uncertainty of trading without insurance. For most, the risk would simply be too great.

EFB Retail/Wine Cellar

Raj Chatha showed his ambitions for the sector with the pre-pack purchase of Wine Cellar and could be in the queue for some stores, but the whole estate would be a lot to swallow at this stage.

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I were to sum up alcohol sales over Christmas 2017 in one word, it would be “gin”. At Nielsen, we define the Christmas period as the 12 weeks to December 30 and in that time gin sales were £199.4 million, which means they increased by £55.4 million compared with Christmas 2016. There’s no sign the bubble is about to burst either. Growth at Christmas 2016 was £22.4 million, so gin has increased its value growth nearly two-and-a-half times in a year. The spirit added more value to
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