Costcutter rules itself out of deal to buy off-licence stores

A private equity investor and a large convenience stores chain have pulled out of the bidding for stores owned by First Quench Retailing, the off- licence group which collapsed into administration last month.

The exit of Threshers and its owner First Quench comes after the administrator KPMG said – in a letter this week seen by The Independent – that it had "formally rejected" a joint bid by 55 Threshers franchisees to buy back their stores. It has emerged that Endless, the Leeds-based private equity firm, and Costcutter, the convenience stores chain, have both ruled themselves out of buying the remaining 500 stores which are still open.

KPMG has already closed about 750 former FQR stores, which are being marketed by Christie & Co. Endless declined to comment yesterday. Colin Graves, the managing director of Costcutter, told Off Licence News: "We looked at it long and hard, but the figures don't add up. There were too many problems."

FQR – the 1,200 off-licence group that includes Wine Rack, Haddows, Victoria Wine and The Local – appointed KPMG as its administrator last month.

It is understood that KPMG is now unlikely to find a buyer for the 500-store estate as a going concern. The likely scenario is that the six potential buyers remaining will purchase parcels of stores. Indicative offers were due in on 13 November and KPMG wants to complete the sale over the coming days.

In a letter on Monday, KPMG's joint administrator Ian Corfield said: "The joint administrators are now in advanced talks regarding the sale of the business with a number of interested parties and have ascertained that parts of the portfolio, consisting of just over 500 stores, are of interest to these potential purchasers."

The off-licence operators Rhythm & Booze, Bargain Booze and EFB Retail are thought to have expressed interest in packages of stores, while Greggs the baker has been eyeing about 100 stores.

In Mr Corfield's letter, he said Christie and Co were "prepared to consider offers from franchisees on an individual basis for assignments of the company's interest in the various leases".

However, taking a tougher line, Mr Corfield said it would be a "condition of any agreement for an assignment" that all amounts owed to the company were "settled in full". He added that franchisees would be updated shortly on their accounts. But the rejection of the 55 franchisees' offer for stores could result in the franchise agreement disappearing. This could be a positive move, freeing franchisees to trade as independents. They could either buy the leases themselves or remain as tenants of whoever buys them.

Lost in the post: Strikes harm online retailers

Last month's postal strike appears to have cost online retailers as much as £53m. Figures published yesterday by the retail analyst IMRG and consultant CapGemini showed that Britons spent £4.2bn on internet purchases in October – 11.8 per cent more than the same month last year.

But growth dipped significantly during the second half of the month, with sales falling by 2 per cent during the third week of October, when the strikes were held, and a further 5 per cent the following week amid mounting public concern about the backlog of deliveries at Royal Mail depots.

However, IMRG and CapGemini said the postal strikes might encourage shoppers to buy Christmas presents earlier this year. While further industrial action is now unlikely before the festive season, the perception that deliveries might be subject to delay could spur shoppers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?