City & Corporate: In the News - First Quench

Bring us up to speed

Off-licence retailer First Quench, which operates the Threshers and Wine Rack brands, has gone into administration. The retailer, owned by private equity firm Vision Capital, operates 1,202 stores. Brands include Threshers, The Local, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up, Victoria Wine and Haddows, and the company employs 6,283 people.

Accountancy firm KPMG has been appointed as the administrator.

So far no stores have been closed and there have been no redundancies of store staff. However, 81 redundancies have been made at head office, based in Welwyn Garden City.

- What was the media reaction?

KMPG UK head of restructuring Richard Fleming was quoted as saying: 'Trading in the off-licence sector has become increasingly competitive in recent years, with the recession proving too much of an additional burden in this case.'

The Times reported that First Quench had 'struggled to compete with aggressive supermarket promotions at a time when consumer spending is under pressure'.

- Who are the PR players?

KPMG's internal press office is handling all media enquiries for First Quench and its portfolio of brands. Brunswick was previously retained by First Quench, but will no longer work on the account.

- What happens next?

It is likely that some store closures and further redundancies will be made. Once the administrators have assessed the viability of each store, a further communication will be announced. The joint administrators are trading the company while actively seeking a buyer for the business as a going concern.

- 81 Redundancies made so far*

*Stat correct as PRWeek went to press

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