Administrator KPMG has handed over the sale of the 141 remaining Unwins retail outlets to property agent Christie & Co, The Grocer has learned.
The move comes after KPMG issued its statement of affairs on Unwins to Companies House.
Rumours abound that Phillip Cook, chairman of DM Private Equity, Unwins’ former owner, has tabled an offer for the upmarket Phillips Newman stores. But Cook remains tight-lipped about his plans.
It is understood that other offers have been made for parcels of stores from a range of bidders, mainly off-licence chains and rival retailers. The
deadline for bids is Monday (February 20).
Unwins and Phillips Newman had combined debts of £42.4m when they folded in December, according to administrator KPMG. But the realistic value of their assets was just £6.3m, leaving a massive shortfall to make up.
Some of the biggest debts are owed to suppliers. InBev UK is owed £2.6m, Diageo Great Britain has outstanding invoices totalling more than £2.1m and Palmer & Harvey McLane is owed £1.6m.
A meeting with debtors has been scheduled for next Friday (February 24).
Some suppliers have revealed that they stopped dealing with Unwins last summer when unpaid bills began to pile up.
Separately, KPMG is investigating why takings from Unwins shops began to be collected by couriers and paid into a DM Private Equity bank account towards the end of last year.
The company claims that the move was designed to crack down on high levels of employee theft. The probe will also examine why Unwins continued to trade with little stock remaining.
Rod Addy