Bargain Booze has emerged from a tumultuous situation relatively unscathed and stock levels have returned to normal levels following Bestway’s takeover.

Shelves were barren when parent company Conviviality plunged into administration, and Bestway’s first job after buying it was to get the supply chain back up and running.

It also had to convince franchisees to stick with the group rather than defect to another fascia, and very few franchisees have jumped ship. 

One franchisee told DRN: “At this moment it’s probably the best thing that could have happened for everybody concerned. But everybody has to understand that it’s all being scrutinised and things will change. The stock level has been sorted out now and the franchisees are waiting to see what happens.

“Bestway seem to be letting the previous management get on with it. It’s very much in the hands of the team at Crewe and it doesn’t have to tell anybody what it’s doing. There’s a feeling that it bought it for peanuts and will leave it to see what happens.

“The management’s credibility with the franchisees went down the toilet. 

“It seems like Bestway is just waiting to see how the old management deals with this non-Conviviality environment, then it will make a decision as to who it will bring in.”

He said that high salaries
for executives had been a contributing factor to the financial problems,
and predicted that Bestway would proceed with caution
in this area. “You can’t be paying the managing director £600,000 when you’re a discount chain, but it was and – surprise, surprise – it ran out of money,” he said. 

“Maybe they will give them [the current management team] six months. Who knows? At the moment there don’t appear to be any great changes in the hierarchy.”

Another source said
Bestway has decisions to make around its buying team. 

“Is it practical to have one team in London buying for Bestway and another team in Crewe buying for Bargain Booze?” the source asked. 

“At some point, do they make a call? There is a lot of double expenditure at the moment.

“There is a lot of expertise
in Crewe, compared to London. Bestway has never been great
at buying booze, because is hasn’t been at the front of its minds.”