Scottish cash and carry chain Bellevue has become the fourth BWG wholesaler to be sold back to its original owners as the BWG Group restructures.

Managing director Graham Benson and commercial director George Benson said they had made a “substantial personal investment” in a management buyout of the £40m turnover business.

Electra Partners - the investment bank behind BWG - approached the Benson brothers to ask them to buy back Bellevue two months ago, revealed George Benson. They originally sold to wholesale giant BWG five years ago.

BWG Group chief executive Leo Crawford said: “While
Bellevue has performed extremely well this year, it is not seen as core to the BWG Group business. The sale allows us to further invest in our key symbol brands of Spar, Mace and Bargain Booze together with our cash and carry and foodservice operations in Ireland.”

The Benson brothers have acquired 50% of shares each in the MBO, which was part-funded by Royal Bank of Scotland.

The price tag has not been disclosed. Benson said the Landmark Group company would be sticking to “hard targets” that had been set by BWG for the coming year.

He said turnover had gone up for every year in the five that Bellevue had been under BWG Group’s control, largely due to BWG’s addition of the Renton cash and carry business in Stirling to the Bellevue estate four years ago.

George Benson said: “We learnt a lot being part of a public limited company and will use that knowledge in the future. “But perhaps there was a bit of entrepreneurship missing, and we will be developing that now.” The two-depot cash and carry chain will be focused on the core retail market as well as the “impulse catering market”.

It will continue to run a delivered wholesale business, which accounts for 40% of sales from the former Renton Stirling depot and a Drinks Direct specialist wine and spirits delivery service from its Edinburgh depot as separate divisions.

BWG has raised E100m cash from asset disposals and other efficiencies since Electra funded a management buy-out of BWG from its parent Pernod Ricard last year. Some E30m was raised through the sale of AR Daunt, EV Saxton and T&A Symonds wholesalers, said Crawford.
Anne Bruce