Belfast Telegraph

Bargain Booze saves 1,100 jobs in Central Convenience stores deal

The group is underpinning the deal by raising £30 million on the London Stock Exchange.

Bargain Booze owner Conviviality has saved 1,100 jobs after buying more than 100 convenience stores in a £25 million deal following the collapse of wholesaler Palmer & Harvey (P&H).

The alcohol wholesaler and distributor has secured a takeover of Central Convenience, which includes franchise rights, 127 convenience stores, 20 linked to petrol stations and 47 including Post Offices, and 18 franchisee-operated stores.

The group is underpinning the deal by raising £30 million on the London Stock Exchange by placing 8,000,000 new ordinary shares at 375p each.

Shares in Conviviality closed up more than 2% in response to the acquisition from P&H subsidiary WS Retail (WSR).

Conviviality chief executive Diana Hunter said: “We are delighted to have completed the acquisition and to have the Central Convenience business join the Conviviality group.

“We now welcome our new colleagues and franchisees to the group. Conviviality Retail now comprises 836 stores, serving more customers in the south and south-west of England.”

The move comes after a further 400 P&H staff were made redundant on Tuesday after 2,500 people immediately lost their jobs when the troubled wholesaler crashed into administration at the end of last month.

The 90-year-old firm appointed PwC as administrators after “challenging trading conditions” heaped pressure on its cash flow and efforts to revive the business failed to take hold.

P&H was the UK’s biggest supplier of cigarettes, employing about 3,400 people and providing alcohol, groceries and frozen food to 90,000 retail accounts.

WSR booked turnover and earnings of £75.7 million and £3.5 million respectively in the 53 weeks to April 8, Conviviality said.

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