Pernod Ricard decided to sell BWG in 2000 to offset some of the $3.15bn cost of acquiring, with Diageo, Seagram's wine and spirits business. At the time, the Irish wholesaler was considered an odd fit in the French group's stable, but it was a hugely successful one thanks to an aggressive seven-year acquisition strategy that had transformed it into a business with €44m operating profits and €1.3bn sales in 2000. Following the protracted sale to a management team backed by Electra Partners, however, a leaner, meaner machine has stared to emerge.
1994: BWG moves to Northern Ireland and acquires Mace wholesaler J&J Haslett and the Holmes cash and carry business.
1997: Moves across the Irish Sea to acquire Spar's wholesaler for the south west, Appleby Westward, for £9.5m.
1998: Scottish cash and carry businesses Rentons and Bellevue acquired, along with Northern Irish firms Knox and WG Windrum.
1999: Acquires three of the big six Key Lekkerland wholesalers, EV Saxton, Goodwins and T&A Symonds.
1999: Pernod Ricard acquires Seagram's wine and spirit business in joint venture with Diageo. Rumours about BWG's future role in the enlarged drinks group start to swirl.
2000: Buys Bargain Booze and Key Lekkerland members E Round & Son (merged into Goodwins) and AR Daunt. In October, Pernod Ricard's joint MD Richard Burrows dismisses as "ill-founded speculation" suggestions that Pernod Ricard is planning to sell BWG. But in December the sale is announced, with a £236m price tag attached.
2001: Venture capitalists Electra Partners are identified as a serious bidder for BWG.
2002: Management buyout funded by Electra goes through and BWG sets about divesting less profitable parts of the business ­ Key Lekkerland wholesalers AR Daunt, T&A Symonds and EV Saxton. But it retains Goodwins, which becomes self-distributor to Bargain Booze.
July 2003: Sale of J&J Haslett, the group's Mace cash and carry, is imminent.