As The Grocer went to press, administrator KPMG was sifting through offers from bidders ranging from retailers to private equity groups. “We have received interest from parties wanting to buy anything from one store,” a spokesman said.
Oddbins, the off-licence chain owned by French group Castel, has been seen as a favourite to buy most of the stores. The company refused to comment on its involvement.
Other companies mentioned include wholesaler Whitall Wines and Wine Cellar, who are also remaining tightlipped. Another surprise contender is Phillip Cook, the chairman of DM Private Equity, owner of Unwins until it went into administration last month. Cook has launched a bid to buy back some of the outlets.
KPMG said it ideally wanted to sell as many of the stores as it could to a single bidder.
When Unwins appointed KPMG as administrators in December, the total store estate stood at 350 stores. But Thresher Group moved swiftly to buy 200 of those just days later. Thresher Group is still in the process of restocking them, although all are now open for business, displaying signs stating they are “under new management”. Industry sources say they believe it is unlikely that Thresher Group will bid for any of the remaining stores.