Conviviality said it “continues to pursue opportunities” to find a buyer for its retail arm after confirming the sale of Matthew Clark and Bibendum PLB to C&C Group.
Bargain Booze and Wine Rack workers and franchisees remain in limbo after the group collapsed following a string of financial calamities.
Conviviality was divided into Conviviality Direct and Conviviality Retail, and C&C Group has only acquired the former.
That means the Magners and Tennent’s supplier has bought Matthew Clark, Bibendum, Catalyst PLB, Walker & Wodehouse, Peppermint and Elastic, which are all different parts of the wholesale, distribution and events business. This part of the group went into administration earlier today and PwC proceeded with an “accelerated sale process” to C&C.
Administrators Matthew Callaghan, Ian Green and David Baxendale of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP have been appointed for the remaining parts of the business and the failed group said “other companies continue to trade”.
However, many Bargain Booze stores across the UK have been shut and others have barren shelves after suppliers put stop orders on the group.
“The company continues to pursue opportunities in respect of the Conviviality Retail business and will provide an update in due course,” said Conviviality.
There are more than 700 Bargain Booze and Wine Rack stores, some owned by the group and others owned by 370 different franchisees, so around 4,000 people are tied to the retail empire and they are still facing a great deal of uncertainty.
But the C&C takeover at Conviviality Direct should come as a relief to 1,900 employees in this side of the business.
AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, which distributes Magners in the UK, supported C&C Group in the acquisition. It is a welcome shot in the arm for the wholesale sector and it will hopefully spark greater confidence among the drinks industry.
Conviviality promised that all trade creditors of the Conviviality Direct business will be paid in full, and said the takeover would ensure continuity of supply for producers and customers.
“Further to the announcement this morning that C&C was in advanced discussions to acquire Matthew Clark and Bibendum PLB, C&C confirms that the acquisition has now completed in accordance with the terms set out in this morning’s announcement,” said the Irish firm. “Accordingly, C&C now owns 100% of the issued share capital of Matthew Clark Bibendum.”
Its chief executive, Stephen Glancey, added: “We know the Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses very well. They are great businesses with unparalleled on-trade market access, a wide range of supplier relationships and supported by a knowledgeable and loyal employee base.
“The last few weeks have been challenging for employees, customers and suppliers alike. We hope today’s announcement can put an end to this period of disruption and uncertainty.
We look forward to working with our new colleagues and other stakeholders to bring stability and restore the group’s position as one of the leading and most respected drinks suppliers to the UK hospitality sector.”
It supplies more than 8,000 products, including beers, wines, spirits, cider and soft drinks, to more than 23,000 on-trade accounts, with a nationwide distribution network of depots.