• Retailer running low on cash
  • Suppliers chasing group for money
  • MD says still considering options available
Are the clouds gathering for Oddbins?

Are the clouds gathering for Oddbins?

Oddbins is under threat of going into administration in a matter of weeks, just-drinks has been told, although the group maintains that it has other options still available.

The UK wine retailer, which confirmed earlier this week that it has recruited management consultants to help examine its "strategic options", is running low on cash and may have to go into administration within a month, sources close to the situation have told just-drinks.

Separate sources have also told just-drinks this week that the retailer owes several wine and spirits producers and distributors “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.

Oddbins has declined to comment further on the matter. On confirming the appointment of Spectrum Corporate Finance earlier this week, managing director Simon Baile would only say: “We are aware of certain rumours circulating about Oddbins.”

The group's plight highlights ongoing tough times for the UK's independent wine trade, which witnessed the collapse of Threshers owner First Quench Retailing at the end of 2009 and that of the Unwins chain in 2005.

Oddbins had been experiencing something of a revival since being bought in 2008 by Baile, the son of group founder Nick Baile.

However, poor trading over Christmas and a court dispute with the group's previous owner, Castel Freres, are threatening to derail the firm. just-drinks understands that the legal dispute between Oddbins and Castel relates to money owed as part of Baile's takeover. According to Oddbins' accounts, filed at Companies House, Nicolas holds a floating charge over Oddbins' stock.

In 2009, Oddbins' losses shrank to GBP4.5m, compared to GBP10m in 2007. Its accounts for 2010 are marked "overdue" in Companies House records.

Baile said: "During 2010, we saw our footfall increase significantly for the first time in many years, added to which we have seen strong growth in average spend and Oddbins average bottle price is now the highest of the high street multiples." The company has 127 stores across the UK.

Both Castel and Oddbins declined to comment on the precise nature of their legal dispute, citing confidentiality clauses.