Bargain Booze has been put up for sale by its owners, venture capital group Electra Partners and its BWG Group retail and wholesale business.

Rothschild bank in Manchester has been appointed to manage the sale. Commenting on the sales process, Crawford said: “We anticipate strong interest from all parties, but it’s early days and we’ve had no approaches yet. We expect to announce a definitive deal by late summer or early autumn.”

He said Electra Partners and BWG were open to bids from private investors as well as retailers.

The owners have reassured the trade that the sale will not affect the ongoing development of the drinks chain.

Leo Crawford, chief executive of BWG, assured suppliers and staff: “It will be business as usual.” He said plans to grow retail operations would continue. “We have budgeted for another 50 stores this year and we’re in talks with potential franchisees.”

The retailer would also keep developing its distribution network, said Crawford, using satellite depots, such as those in Crewe and Newcastle, run by third party operators to boost its geographical reach.

Bargain Booze operates 550 stores, mainly run by franchisees. The company currently has 300 franchise partners, achieving sales of £350m in the last year.