Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Thresher Group, has played down the Office of Fair Trading's invitation last week for comments on Thresher's December acquisition of 200 Unwins stores.
The OFT said it was standard practice to issue such notes where acquisitions exceeded a certain size. However, the move could lead to Thresher being forced to sell some of the stores.
Whiteside said he had written to the OFT, stressing that the stores were not part of an ongoing business. "They were not part of a going concern, so we think it falls outside the OFT's remit," he said, adding that he had also made the point that Thresher Group's sales represented less than 5% of the total UK off-licence market.
Separately, Thresher Group said the franchise scheme it launched in January was gathering pace. Whiteside said that 600 Thresher Group store managers had been invited to sign up to the venture and that the number who had expressed an interest was "in the hundreds".
When all the invited retailers had replied, the initiative would be opened up to retailers outside the company, he said.