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Retail closures to hit booze cruise

The booze cruise could be about to disappear as three UK alcohol retailers pull out of Calais, according to a report.

Oddbins Calais closed earlier this year and the company confirmed its franchise agreement had come to an end, The Grocer reported.

Sainsbury's is to close its Calais Wine Store on June 30. The supermarket said its joint venture with French retailer Auchan was no longer "economically viable" and it had failed to come up with a satisfactory solution to keep the site open, the trade magazine said.

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "Sainsbury's and Auchan have made the difficult decision to close Sainsbury's Calais. Thirteen colleagues have been informed that their jobs are at risk and will be offered redeployment opportunities by the two co-shareholders."

Sainsbury's is encouraging shoppers on its website to bulk-buy six bottles of wine with a 5% discount in its UK stores instead. It is advising consumers to call before heading to the Calais outlet and has cancelled all online ordering as stock is limited.

Tesco also confirmed to The Grocer this week it was consulting over its Tesco Vins Plus site in Calais. The magazine said the store was expected to close after staff in France had been consulted.

Cheaper prices at home and the pound's slump against the euro have hit UK operators in France.

This week Majestic Wine blamed the relative strength of the euro for a 28% fall in sales for the year to the end of March in its three northern France stores.

However it said it would stay in France, claiming the difference in duty was still wide enough to attract savvy shoppers.

In March, Oddbins boss Simon Baile predicted a "complete revolution" in the number and size of stores in Calais due to the tough trading conditions.

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