New Oddbins owner posts losses in first year, but directors remain optimistic

Wine Retail Limited – which bought a number of Oddbins stores out of administration last…

Wine Retail Limited – which bought a number of Oddbins stores out of administration last year –  has returned a loss in its first year of trading, however directors remain optimistic following strong trading during 2020.

The company, which was created in January 2019, is a wholly owned subsidiary of EFB Holdings Limited, which lists its directors as former Oddbin’s managing director and EFB Holdings director Ayo Akintola and Balbir Singh Chatha, a director of EFB Holdings Ltd and the now-defunct EFB Retail Limited.

In accounts filed at Companies House this week, recorded total debts of £1.53million, with £1.329million owed to the group undertaking and other creditors listed as £107,318 tax and social security and £4,879 to the trade.

However, the directors confirmed that the parent and group companies will continue to support the company with working capital as and when requested, and will not request repayment of group loans “until the financial circumstances of the company permits”.

Furthermore results for the parent Group posted in May, said that turnover and demand at the retail subsidiary had been strong during last year’s pandemic, which had seen the shops classed as essential businesses.

They said that the strong sale trend from the retail subsidiary would “not only continue but also grow” and noted that the group’s subsidiary wholesale company  European Food Brokers Limited, was also in the process of re-establishing its business, after regaining its AWRS license.

“While the directors do not expect to achieve the historic volume of wholesale business any time soon, given the structural changes made to the business, they expect the reconstituted business to be far more profitable given the massive reduction in its cost base,” the directors said in the strategic report.

Administration and rescue

Oddbins went into administration in January 2019, blaming Brexit uncertainty and the deterioration of the high street, but it later became clear that some of its financial woes came in part from HRMC revoking the excise approvals of its parent company and chief supplier, European Food Brokers Limited. Around 45 unprofitable stores (including 13 Oddbins stores and others under the Booze Buster, Simply Drinks, Oddies, and Shop2Go fascias) were closed by the end of March 2019.

A rescue plan for some of the remaining stores by its former owners emerged in June 2019,  (analysed by db here) and in September a report for creditors published on Companies House confirmed terms of a sale of some the stores to an anonymous purchaser. In June 2020,  28 stores were sold by the administrator to a company identified only as ‘WRL’ with the remaining 26 stores being closed.

The administrators report of March finally confirmed that the buyer was indeed Wine Retail Limited (as previously suggested by db), noting that ‘during the year of business, trade and assets of some of the wider group’s former subsidiaries in administration was purchased by Wine Retail Limited.

According to the Oddbins website, there are currently 17 Oddbins stores still operating.