Threshers owner goes into administration

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The Independent Online

Threshers and Wine Rack parent First Quench Retailing went into administration today in a move putting thousands of jobs at risk.

The owner of the high street off-licence chains confirmed the appointment of KPMG as administrator, but said it hoped to preserve "as many jobs as possible" by securing a sale as a going concern.

The business will operate as normal while KPMG seeks to secure a sale and staff wages will be paid next week as planned, according to the firm.

First Quench - which also owns convenience store chain The Local - employs a total of 6,500 staff, including 3,000 full-time workers.

The group said it was unable to warn staff before news leaked of KPMG's appointment.

First Quench said in a statement: "It is with great regret that the board was not able to brief our colleagues prior to it being made public in the media.

"This was always our intention but, unfortunately, the news leaked. There is a full programme of communication which will commence from Friday morning to our colleagues."

It is understood to have been looking at various options for the business in an attempt to stave off administration, including trying to find a buyer.

At the beginning of the year First Quench, which currently has a total of 1,300 outlets, warned some of its stores would close if it was unable to renegotiate rents with landlords.

A turnaround plan was put in place, including cost savings, the closure of loss-making stores and cutting of stock.

First Quench is already said to have warned over its ability to continue as a going concern after the business was hit by declining demand and the withdrawal of credit insurance.

Fellow retailer Blacks Leisure is also facing a survival battle today as a debt repayment deadline looms.

The outdoor chain said first-half losses had almost trebled and it is scrambling to secure a debt restructuring plan for lender Lloyds Banking Group ahead of tomorrow's cut off.