Bestway has acquired Bargain Booze and the rest of Conviviality’s retail assets for £7m with immediate effect.
The deal sees Bestway take over the contracts Conviviality holds with individual franchisees, and the direct running of centrally-owned Bargain Booze, Wine Rack and Central Convenience stores.
Zameer Choudrey, Bestway Group CEO, said the deal was “a great fit” for both companies. “This deal provides much-needed certainty to these stores and our priority will be to stabilise the supply of stock into these businesses. These retailers can get back to ‘business as usual’ with the confidence of having the support of the UK’s largest independent wholesaler.
“By stepping in we have ensured the franchisee stores get the support they need and deserve to grow their businesses, as well as continuing to provide choice for shoppers on the high street.”
Choudrey added that the deal had also provided job security to more than 2,300 employees affected by Conviviality’s collapse.
Paul Walker, owner 13 Bargain Booze stores in the north west, told Retail Express: “I’m happy with the news, Bestway have a good track record and like us, when they make a decision it’s their own money at stake. The name above the door should remain Bargain Booze, and I think now we’ve been split off our margins will begin to improve as well.”
However, some franchisees told Retail Express they are not prepared to let their contract change hands and are instead looking to exit the chain. Franchisees previously said they had been left “in the dark” over the company’s collapse.
There are at least 20 franchisees that are planning to leave the group and some have cancelled the direct debits paid to Conviviality.
Those retailers looking to exit the fascia face contract terms demanding store owners must give three months notice to leave the group or pay a year’s franchise fees. But one franchisee told Retail Express: “We’ve received no reassurances or information; the future of our businesses and we haven’t been given any say in the outcome.”
Prior to the move, three Bargain Booze franchisees had told Retail Express that they were looking to move to Bestway’s Best-one franchise, and Bestway’s Symbol development manager James Hall, said: “we have had many enquiries from Bargain Booze retailers.”
The move casts doubt over Bestway’s rumoured plans to acquire Blakemore Wholesale. A senior industry source has told Retail Express that the opportunity to purchase Conviviality’s assets may have caused Bestway to get “cold feet” over Blakemore Wholesale.
Source: Better Retailing