Up to a third of the First Quench's 1,200 off-licences were not profitable, according to administrator KPMG.

Richard Fleming, head of UK restructuring for KPMG, said that while "800 or 900" of the off-licences, which include Threshers, Wine Rack, The Local and Haddows, were in profit when FQR threw in the towel, the rest were not.

"Some are marginal and could be profitable with someone else," he told The Grocer. "There's been a lot of interest from off-licences and supermarkets and other high-street operators. We would love to see as many stores as possible sold so employment is preserved."

FQR's like-for-like sales were down 6% year-on-year as a result of competition from supermarkets, supply problems and the economy, he said. Creditors could lose "tens of millions of pounds", he predicted.

KPMG has set a deadline of Friday (13 November) for indicative offers and Fleming said he hoped to complete the sale of stores by 26 November.

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