Former Oddbins sales director Andy Gadsby has warned that the off-licence chain needs to reverse its policy of costcutting and must invest in its stores if its ailing fortunes are to be transformed.

Gadsby's recent resignation after 14 years with Oddbins has shocked the drinks trade.

This week, in an exclusive interview with The Grocer, Gadsby revealed the reasons behind his decision to quit. "I just couldn't see that the strategy going ­forward was going to be successful for Oddbins," he said. "I have no animosity towards Oddbins but it wasn't exciting any more.

"For me it was always about developing new things, the trade side of the business, mail order and the range. All these things that Oddbins was famous for and respected for are being lost. The attitude needs to be 'how do we develop sales and make things better?', not just cut back.

"I'm very proud of what Oddbins did last year and I'm proud of the sales team. We performed pretty well but that's not going to be borne out in the figures."

Gadsby said he had also grown frustrated at the amount of decision making being made by Oddbins' parent company Castel in France, and the large number of shops being converted from the Oddbins format to Nicolas - a strategy brought in by the company to revive flagging stores.

Gadsby is the latest high-profile departure from the troubled chain, which lost £8.7m in the year to 31 December 2006 and has proved a major embarrassment for Castel, which paid £40m for the business in 2002.

The chain's buying team has been decimated by the earlier departures of Emma Nichols, Lynne Coyle, James Forbes and Grant Ramage.

One senior analyst said: "How many more good people can they lose? Oddbins is hugely unattractive to a trade buyer. The brand equity is declining by the day.

"If the people at the very top of an organisation don't appear to believe in it, that's when you have a serious problem."

Oddbins declined to comment.

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