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Bibendum a ‘great fit’ for Conviviality, says CEO

Conviviality’s £60 million takeover of Bibendum PLB has created “a very exciting complement to Matthew Clark”, Conviviality CEO Diana Hunter said this morning.

Diana Hunter, Conviviality CEO (Photo: Conviviality)
Diana Hunter, Conviviality CEO (Photo: Conviviality)

Speaking to the drinks business about the acquisition – announced yesterday following negotiations between the two business which began in January – Hunter described Bibendum PLB as “a great fit” in terms of suppliers, customers and people.”

Hunter also stressed that Conviviality has “bought Bibendum because of Bibendum, we are not about to take that away… Bibendum will still operate as Bibendum.”

Looking back, Hunter said that her aim for Conviviality had been realised with the acquisition.

“When we were buying Matthew Clark we explained the vision for the company [Conviviality]: we wanted to touch every consumer drinking occasion – and now, with Bibendum PLB, we really can.”

While Hunter said that Bibendum PLB “were committed to remain in its current offices until July 2017”, she suggested that the business would move from its current site – a former garage in Primrose Hill – after that date.

Nevertheless, she assured db that Conviviality would keep an office in west London for Bibendum PLB.

Bibendum PLB will remain in its current offices until July 2017

“Conviviality intends to keep offices in London and in a similar area – broadly in the west of London; it suits us – London is where the new trends are, and it is important to our new customers that we are in London,” she said.

Meanwhile, Michael Saunders, CEO of Bibendum PLB, said that he had received “a number of approaches” over the 34 years he has run the business, but was looking for an acquiring company that would meet three criteria.

“In no order of priority I wanted, firstly, a future owner that would nurture and develop my staff because they are what has enabled me to build this business – so I’m passionate about protecting my people,” he said.

“Second is the attitude towards my suppliers and customers – we have a really dynamic supply base, and it would be mad to see that undermined,” he continued.

“And the third criteria is the most personal, and that is that the person who took on this business would respect the legacy of what we have built, they would develop our niche and our brand; not undermine them,” he stated.

Claiming that Conviviality met these criteria, he also said that he is staying on at the helm of Bibendum PLB, although he is now reporting to Hunter, who will “set the strategy”.

“I sit here incredibly excited about the future,” said Saunders.

Finally Saunders urged db not to consider Conviviality as one homogenous group but look at it according to its component parts, which include the national wholesaler Matthew Clark along with Conviviality’s retail brands, Bargain Booze and Wine Rack, and then an events and marketing arm too.

The newly enlarged business has a combined turnover of £1.4 billion, confirmed Hunter.

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