The ferocious discounting from the supermarkets has done the likes of Threshers very few favours

Despite my single-handed efforts trying to keep several branches of Threshers in the black, parent First Quench has called in the administrators and appointed KPMG to oversee a sale or restructuring.

At the risk of sounding slightly harsh, this news sadly comes as little surprise. Granted, the ferocious (and some would argue irresponsible) discounting from the supermarkets has done the likes of Threshers very few favours but, as others have noted, the writing has been on the wall for some time thanks to a raft of poor decisions in areas such as pricing, inventory, supply chain, assortment and systems.

As Oddbins will hopefully prove, now it is rid of the myopic patriotism of its French former parent company, there is definitely a place for a quality- and service-led booze specialist on the high street.

As Bargain Booze has already shown, it’s possible to operate a price-led, more discount-driven concept that can successfully co-exist with the big supermarkets. And Majestic offers a nice combination of authority and value. So, the question is whether Threshers can be re-engineered to get away from the treacherous middle ground and find its own niche in one of the most cut-throat categories in the market.

There have reportedly been over a dozen expressions of interest in the various chains that make up First Quench, including sniffs from restructuring specialists and presumably a retailer or two.

Most of the stores are too small to house a Co-operative, Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local, but is there any reason why a supermarket group wouldn’t want a chain of off licences? Sure, there would be a few supply chain tricks to learn, but the combination of a strong supermarket brand, sizeable buying clout and sharper pricing spread across the Threshers estate could be a winning mix. It makes more sense than buying a bunch of garden centres, anyway.

I make this the 35th major retail administration/CVA since November last year. Many of these, such as Threshers, have been retailers with self-imposed weaknesses. Any future owner of Threshers will need to correct these.