Baile: Back end “killed” Oddbins

27th July, 2011 by Lucy Shaw

Simon Baile has admitted it was the back end of the Oddbins business that “killed” the off-licence chain.

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business, the former managing director of the failed business said: “The shops weren’t the root cause of the problem; many things killed Oddbins.

“It was the back end of the business that ultimately killed it. Working with such low margins, it’s incredibly important you get that right. If you get that wrong it doesn’t matter what you do at the front.

“We had a lot of fixed term contracts and we couldn’t cover the costs.”

Oddbins went into administration in March this year with debts of over £20 million.

Baile admitted he has kept out of what’s been going on at the 37 remaining Oddbins stores over the past few months.

He is now busy developing a small chain of independent wine shops under the ExCellar name, having bought back five Oddbins stores from Deloitte in May to add to his existing four stores in London, Surrey and Paris.

“The shops still look a bit scratchy from the outside, but they’re open for business and we need to push on with the process,” Baile told db.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of staff post-debacle, but one person turned up and the news soon spread, so I’ve got a team of 20 together, made up mainly of ex-Oddbins staff, who are up for the challenge.”

As would be expected, it hasn’t been straightforward securing suppliers. “Some have been supportive, others less so – they know who they are,” Baile said.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and Christmas. We’ll keep on as best we can but it’s going to be tricky.”

Reaction to his latest venture has been mixed. “Some have called me mad and others have wished me well,” Baile said. “I firmly believe what we were trying to do at Oddbins was the right thing. I’m focused on what I need to do now.”

Despite Oddbins’ demise, Baile remains positive about the future of wine on the high street: “I’m passionate about high street retail,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with having a site on a high street.

“A few bombs have gone off in the trade, which has fragmented it. It’s a very interesting time – the best time in the trade for a while.”

For more on high street wine retail, look out for the August issue of the drinks business

6 Responses to “Baile: Back end “killed” Oddbins”

  1. odd net says:

    As MD, shouldn’t SB have been looking after the “back end”? Is this an acceptance that he personally got it so very wrong and put so many staff out of work? If so, this doesn’t bode that well for his remaining business interests.

    Ex colleagues at Oddbins are not exactly clamouring to work for Mr Baile so the impression that people are knocking at his door is somewhat wide of the mark. Those people that Odd Net have been in touch with have simply had to be pragmatic. They have bills to pay and unlike some people, plan to pay them, therefore they have to take whatever job they can get.

    Any bets on how many of the Ex-Cellar stores are still trading in January?

  2. Jim,Chelsea says:

    Baile is living in dream world ! To continue to place/take orders from supliers when you know there is no way of paying for them is unforgivable, not to mention unethical and possibly illegal ! That this man can continue to trade is a joke and the fact he feels lofty enough to say to suppliers who won’t trade “you know who you are” -sums up the giant ego ! They know who they are and i would imagine are very proud to have kicked you to touch ! Ex-cellars is an ex-business !

  3. Irishdids says:

    Whilst I appauld Mr Baille’s tacit acceptance that he cocked up with his running of Oddbins, I am amazed at the pig ignorance of him taking forward the exact same business model into his new venture. His goading of suppliers reluctance of wanting to supply him just shows the hack of the man, that he expects others to provide a living for him. Rather than him roll up his sleeves and get mucky and take some risks himself. He lost nothing and personally gained out of the demise of Oddbins with the expansion of his existing venture in ex Cellars.

  4. Christopher says:

    The contempt for suppliers seems to know no bounds. Bailes comments are arrogant. It’s highly likely it’s not just Oddbins staff who have lost their jobs. What’s with the article picture. What is he celebrating? Drinks Business, have some tact please. This is an old pic. How about a suitably remorseful portrait, debtors list in hand.

  5. Simone Jung says:

    There were many many reasons Oddbins failed, quite a lot of them to do with rubbish decisions made by Simon Baile. The biggest of these was trying to run a large chain without any money. Funny how the big players declined to give him stock for nothing – this was always dressed up in PR flim-flam, eg the nonsense about how we only “wanted” to stock champagne from small producers. Sending the would-be customers who wanted a case of Veuve packing was always good morale-boosting fun.

    I recommend people pop their heads around the door of the ex-Oddbins now “Ex Cellar” branch on Farringdon Street, full of ex-Oddbins wines and ex-Oddbins employees. You can almost taste the self-loathing.

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