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Oddbins to go into administration

Wine retailer Oddbins has said it will go into administration after the Government's tax department refused to back a potential rescue deal.

The struggling off-licence chain hoped to restructure its debts through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), but HM Revenue & Customs - a significant creditor - would not support the move.

A statement from Oddbins said the firm now expects to enter into administration on April 4, sparking fears for the future of its 400 staff.

The retailer, which recently shut nearly 40 stores, is the latest victim of a declining independent wine trade in the UK, which has seen Threshers' owner First Quench Retailing collapse in 2009 and the Unwins chain fold in 2005.

Oddbins, which has 89 stores left in the UK, has been under pressure amid competition from supermarket chains and falling consumer confidence.

It is understood HMRC was owed £8 million by Oddbins, accounting for around 30% of the retailer's debt. The company said a "significant" majority of creditors clearly wanted Oddbins to continue trading, but HMRC's vote was heavily weighted and tipped the outcome. The company needed 75% of creditors to back the deal.

Oddbins managing director Simon Baile, whose father founded the company in the 1970s, said he remains optimistic for the firm, revealing that a number of potential investors had come forward to buy the business, or parts of it.

HMRC is unable to discuss specific details about its debtors due to its statutory duty of taxpayer confidentiality.

But an HMRC spokesman said: "We do everything we reasonably can to support viable businesses but we have to do the right thing for the country's finances and other creditors when casting our vote."

Mr Baile, who took control of the firm in 2008, said: "We very much regret the need to make so many staff redundant prior to last night's vote and we are working diligently to find a buyer for the majority of the business so that as many jobs as possible may be saved."


From Belfast Telegraph