Plans to sell the UK off-licence group Unwins to French wine company Castel are in trouble, according to a press report.

The news agency AFX News said it has learnt that although Castel remains in the race to buy Unwins, Grant Thornton, which is organising the sale, has also signed heads of agreement with rival suitor UW Acquisitions Ltd, the vehicle created by private equity group DM Private Equity.

It is thought that Grant Thornton may be putting pressure on Castel to speed up the acquisition process, the report said.

Castel already owns the rival off-licence chains Oddbins and Nicolas.