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Exclusive: Sale of Oddbins stores expected to complete this month

The purchase of Oddbins and its sister company, Wine Cellars Trading Limited’s retail stores to an unnamed purchaser (rumoured to be its former owner), are set to go through this month, db can reveal – a year after the beleaguered retailer was put into administration.

In a statement to the drinks business, a spokesman for the administrators said the proposed purchaser was completing some final due diligence and final discussions are currently being had. “We envisage the sale to complete this month,” she said.

Reports first surfaced back in June last year that the UK wine merchant may be rescued from administration by its former owners and in September, an updated report for creditors published on Companies House confirmed terms of a sale, saying delays had occurred by the proposed purchaser having to resolve issues with HMRC over due diligence and a potential wage arrears claim, that had been resolved.

It stated that individual stores within the 56-store strong retail estates were being agreed with a proposed purchaser but there had been delays. Since then two further stores have been closed – the Oddbins on Clapham High Street and a WCTL store at Longbenton – due to landlord action.

In total 14 Oddbins stores and 33 Wine Cellars Trading Limited (WCTL) outlets, which trades under the Booze Buster, Simply Drinks, Oddies, and Shop2Go fascias have shut since the retailer entered administration, the majority of which were deemed unprofitable and were shut by the administrators in March 2019.

Today’s sale update comes after the administrators were granted an extension to the period of administration for another year to resolve various outstanding issues, which was filed at Companies House on 30 January.

An administrator’s contract automatically ends after 12 months, but it can be renewed by application to a court if more time is needed to finalise arrangements.

A spokesman for the administrators told the drinks business that this would enable it to finalise the Administration trading period and resolve all outstanding Administration trading matters including dealing with the realisation of any remaining tangible and intangible assets, dealing with all outstanding matters with HMRC, dealing with the leasehold properties, and various other statutory and tax matters.

In August, accounts showed that parent company EFB Trading Limited had lost £10 million in 2018, and had been stripped of its alcohol wholesale registration scheme licence (AWRS) six months before its retail businesses were placed in administration.

According to records filed at Companies House, the retail business’s financial strain was exacerbated by HRMC revoking the excise approvals of its parent company, European Food Brokers Limited, which supplied Oddbins and Wine Cellar Trading as well as independent retailers and supermarkets, and its sister warehousing company, Whittalls Wine Merchants (WWM). As a result EFBL lost its bonded warehouse and was forced to pay duty on all its stock, meaning it also could no longer buy in bulk, thereby hindering its ability to to secure competitive pricing from suppliers, and putting a severe strain on cashflow.

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