Former Threshers franchisees now running their shops as independent businesses are hatching a plan to set up their own buying group, The Grocer has learnt.

Following the collapse of Threshers owner First Quench Retailing in October last year, some 40 former franchisees have kept their stores open, despite the closure of the rest of the First Quench estate, and are currently negotiating to buy the leaseholds to the stores from administrator KPMG.

The buying group could develop its own symbol fascia to be shared by its members, as well as attract the hundreds of independent retailers who are buying stores from KPMG.

Anthony Bailey, who runs a Threshers in Upminster, has volunteered to run the buying group and has already started talking to suppliers about trading with them in bulk. "If we start a buying group, then the world is our oyster," he said. "There's a whole host of indies out there who could benefit."

Franchise law specialist Geoffrey Sturgess, who is representing the franchisees in their dealings with KPMG, added: "Once the dust has settled and they have got their premises, I anticipate the vast majority of franchisees will come together in some form of a buying co-operative to deal with suppliers.

"There is substantial interest from the franchisees. The group is likely to be turning over something like £25m, so it should be attractive to suppliers that can extend credit and deliver to their stores. There's no reason why it couldn't attract other Threshers franchisees and independents in the long-term."

The rights to use the Threshers, The Local, Bottoms Up and Unwins names have been bought by SEP Properties, while the right to use the Wine Rack fascia has been bought by Venus Wine and Spirits. As a result, the franchisees will shortly have to find alternative signs to hang above their doors.

"The franchisees could invent their own brand, although this would be more difficult to set up because some of the independents might like having their own name," added Sturgess.