Trade buyers are among the frontrunners to buy the largest chunks of First Quench Retailing as the indicative deadline for offers closes today.
Buyers in the mix are understood to include EFB Retail - which bought 200 Wine Cellar shops out of administration in October - Oddbins, Bargain Booze, Costcutter owner Bibby Line Group and northern-based retailer Rhythm & Booze.
The Threshers owner fell into administration two weeks ago. Administrator KPMG is seeking a buyer for all or parts of the business. It is understood KPMG has some 70 expressions of interest, but it is hoping for about four or five strong offers.
Private equity groups are also lining up, but it is understood the First Quench management - led by former Somerfield man John Cleland - are shying away from a bid. As the deadline closes, the majority of the Threshers franchisees have formed an action group in an attempt to resist being bought by a buyer they view as “unfavourable”. The group, which is being represented by law firm Blake Lapthorn, wants the opportunity to choose whether or not a buyer can take control of their individual shops. 55 of the 65 franchisees - which represent 10% of the estate and about £30m of its annual sales - want any buyer to sign up to the British Franchise Association. If not, they may try to buy the franchise estate as a group or individually.
KPMG joint administrator Ian Corfield said: “We are working closely with the franchisees. We are all aware of the buying power of larger operators in this sector so the franchisees could well benefit from being part of a sale of First Quench.”