Heineken has sold loss-making drinks subsidiary Waverley TBS to private equity firm Manfield Partners for an undisclosed sum.

The wholesaler will continue to be run by the current senior management team, which is led by managing director Jonathan Townsend.

Waverley chairman Mark Gerken has stepped down as part of the deal and a new board structure will be put in place involving members of Manfield. The new team could involve former Heineken MD Jeremy Blood, who is a partner at the private equity group,

Waverley subsidiary United Wine Merchants, which operates in Northern Ireland, is not included in the sale and will remain part of Heineken UK.

Waverley will retain a number of commercial agreements with Heineken UK, including a brand supply agreement and trading incentives.

“This sale enables us to better concentrate attention on our core business and to focus investment behind our brands,” said Stefan Orlowski, MD of Heineken UK.

“For Waverley, it builds on a successful restructuring programme already in place and the new owners will be well placed to develop the business further, bringing the focus and strategic direction that will come from independent operation."

As reported in The Grocer in February, Waverley – which racked up pre-tax losses of £21m in 2008 – is currently undergoing a major restructuring involving 220 job losses and the closure of 12 depots.

“It is very much business as usual for our team and our customers,“ insisted Townsend. “It is important for us to carry through the plans we have in place and to set our sights on a sustainable long-term future.

“The Manfield team will help us realise these ambitions and consolidate our position as the UK's leading specialist drinks wholesaler.”

Read more
Punch loss is fresh blow for Waverley (24 April 2010)
Waverley axes depots and jobs in restructure (20 February 2010)
Waverley poised to axe half its depots in supply chain overhaul (6 February 2010)