Receivers for discount booze and c-store chain Cellar 5 said the bulk of the convenience store operation - Right Choice - has been sold to a management buy-out team.

The buyer of the business - which includes 59 stores with a combined turnover in 2001/02 of over £30m - is new firm A & Stores, led by the former operations and logistics director of Cellar 5, Andy Smallman.

The stores, which are spread throughout the North West and the North East, will be converted to the Spar format through A & S’ “strong link” with the Spar Group, according to receivers Grant Thornton.

Separate negotiations were to continue with potential purchasers of a “significant number” of stores from the Booze Buster and Wine Cellar chains.

Christie & Co has been instructed to sell the balance of stores. However, a hard core of the smallest stores - understood to number between 30 and 40 - will probably have to close.