Conviviality sells alcohol distribution arm

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Conviviality C&C

Embattled off-licence retailer Conviviality is in advanced talks to sell its alcohol distribution operations to C&C, the parent company of Magners ciders.

Backed by brewing giant AB InBev, C&C today announced a joint plan to acquire Matthew Clark, Bibendum and other subsidiaries from Conviviality.

The news is “conditional” on administrators being appointed at Conviviality which is speculated would happen later today.

The deal also means Matthew Clark Bibendum will be run as a separate business.

“Consideration for the shares will be a nominal sum, and C&C will provide sufficient funds to support the ongoing working capital and other cash requirements of the business,” C&C said in a stock exchange notice.

“In addition, AB InBev will provide additional financial support to the transaction. C&C’s investment will be funded from existing C&C facilities.”

Chief executive Stephen Glancey added: “We know the Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses very well.

“They are great businesses with unparalleled on-trade market access, a wide range of supplier relationships and supported by a knowledgeable and loyal employee base.

“The last few weeks have been challenging for employees, customers and suppliers alike. We hope today’s announcement can put an end to this period of disruption and uncertainty.

“We look-forward to working with our new colleagues and other stakeholders to bring stability and restore the group’s position as one of the leading and most respected drinks suppliers to the UK hospitality sector.”

The news brings some stability to Conviviality after a string of negative press coverage over several profit warnings, surprise tax bills, and the sudden departure of chief executive Diana Hunter.

The company, which owns the Bargain Booze and Wine Rack fascias, is also in discussions “with a number of other parties interested in the purchase of the retail business”.

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