Bestway saves 2,000 jobs with deal for Bargain Booze owner

About 2,000 jobs have been saved after retail chains including Wine Rack and Bargain Booze were bought in a £7m deal.

The retail division of Conviviality, which collapsed last week, has been acquired by the wholesaler Bestway in a pre-pack administration process.

Bestway is one of Britain’s biggest food wholesalers serving thousands of retailers; it also owns the Well pharmacy chain. It was founded and is chaired by the billionaire Sir Anwar Pervez.

A pre-pack involves a pre-arranged buyer cherry-picking the best assets of a company at a bargain price.

Conviviality confirmed its intention to appoint administrators last week after a string of profit warnings and the discovery of a £30m tax bill, putting more than 2,600 jobs at risk.

The company’s retail arm operates more than 800 stores under brands including chains WS Retail and Select Convenience as well as Bargain Booze and Wine Rack.

On Wednesday, Magners owner C&C bought Conviviality’s wholesale arm, also through a pre-pack administration.

The Irish cider giant said it had bought Conviviality brands Matthew Clark, Bibendum, Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse for a nominal sum. Stella Artois and Budweiser maker AB InBev is also supporting the deal.

The breakup of Conviviality marks a sad demise for the firm.

In the recent weeks, its chief executive, Diana Hunter, has stepped down, while the company has issued a string of profit warnings and revealed the tax bill days before it was due at the end of March.

The hole created what the company called a “short-term funding requirement” and its shares were suspended.

Conviviality was then forced to ask investors for new funding of £125m as a result, but it failed to convince them of its long-term future.

PwC handled the sale and administration process.