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Oddbins owner considers sale - just-drinks thinks

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The owner of Oddbins is reportedly exploring sale options for the UK high street wine retailer after losing millions of pounds over the past two years. An email seen by The Guardian newspaper told staff the company and its subsidiaries "cannot continue in their current form".

The wine world is unlikely to ride to Oddbins rescue but it does need the retailer

The wine world is unlikely to ride to Oddbins' rescue but it does need the retailer

Oddbins has been here before. And what strikes when you read the news stories on its previous collapse in 2011 (first revealed by just-drinks) is just how similar the circumstances are to this week's news. 

Eight years ago, Oddbins - then owned by Simon Baile, the son of the group founder Nick Baile - called in the administrators after the Christmas period failed to provide a financial kiss of life. Meanwhile, supermarket discounting threatened the more premium pricing structure employed by the independent retailers.

Spin forward to today and the comparison is eerily similar. Almost a decade on and UK wine retailers still face the same problems. Only now they are compounded by a falling pound caused by Brexit.

Of course, there was a happy ending to those 2011 news stories. European Food Brokers Group stepped in and saved Oddbins before it collapsed completely, something the wine world must surely be hoping will happen again. Because, now, as then, there is a dire need for a retailer like Oddbins in the UK, which despite Brexit concerns remains one of the world's biggest wine markets.

For an example of why we need a retailer like Oddbins, consider HMV. When the UK high street music retailer plunged into crisis in 2013, there were suggestions the larger record labels were propping it up because they needed the revenue from hard copies - CDs, DVDs and the like - as streaming services cut into margins. Similarly, wine suppliers need the higher shelf prices in stores such as Oddbins, not only to keep margins buoyant but to stop wine in the UK becoming just another supermarket or online commodity. 

The wine world is unlikely to launch any kind of Oddbins rescue bid. But it should hope the plight of the wine retailer continues to echo 2011 - and a buyer is found, before it is too late. 


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