Off-licence chain Oddbins calls in administrators | Business

Oddbins has been put into administration, in a move that puts 550 jobs at risk at the off-licence chain and its sister businesses.

European Food Brokers has appointed Duff & Phelps as administrator to its retail operation, made up of 45 Oddbins stores, 56 Wine Cellar Trading and Whittalls Wine Merchants and two convenience stores.

The parent group and its drinks distribution business has not entered administration and will continue to trade.

Oddbins was founded in 1963 by the entrepreneur Ahmed Pochee, who began by delivering wine to clubs and restaurants in London. This is the second time the chain has collapsed in less than a decade.

EFB, which is owned by the entrepreneur Raj Chatha and his family, bought 35 Oddbins stores from administrators in 2011.

Oddbins is one of the last remaining independent off-licence chains after the collapse of rivals, such as Unwins and Threshers, the latter of which now only trades online. Oddbins featured in the comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, with Patsy Stone, played by Joanna Lumley, living in a storeroom above one of its branches.

The grocery wholesaler Bestway bought the Bargain Booze and Wine Rack chains after their parent group, Conviviality, collapsed into administration nearly a year ago.

Phil Duffy, the joint administrator, said stores belonging to EFB’s retail subsidiaries which had gone into administration would continue to trade while a buyer was sought.

“The continued decline in consumer spending, pointing to a squeeze on household finances, combined with rising living and national wages have put increased pressure on retailers’ bottom lines.”

He said consumers were not spending as much because wages were struggling to keep up with inflation and there was unease over Brexit. “Add into that mix rising business rates and rents, and traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are undoubtedly feeling the strain.”

In an email to staff earlier this week, the directors of EFB said recent months had been “extremely tough trading-wise” and warned that job losses were on the way.

The problems at Oddbins come after Patisserie Valerie and HMV both called in administrators in recent weeks. Chains including New Look, Carpetright, Mothercare and Marks & Spencer have also closed dozens of stores as they try to adapt to the shift towards buying online.

Thousands of retail jobs have been lost as companies try to cut costs and plough investment into IT and home delivery technology to support online shopping.

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