Thousands of off-licence jobs were at risk in the UK today after Threshers and Wine Rack parent First Quench Retailing went into administration.
The owner of the high street chains confirmed the appointment of KPMG as administrator, but said it hoped to preserve “as many jobs as possible” by securing a sale as a going concern.
KPMG said the business – which employs 6,500 people including 3,000 full time workers – would operate as normal while it sought a sale and staff wages would be paid next week as planned.
First Quench operates a total of 1,300 outlets and also owns convenience store chains The Local and Haddows. It has struggled amid fierce competition for drink sales from superstores.
News of the group’s administration leaked last night before staff were informed.
First Quench said: “It is with great regret that the board was not able to brief our colleagues prior to it being made public in the media.
“This was always our intention but, unfortunately, the news leaked. There is a full programme of communication which will commence from Friday morning to our colleagues.”
It is understood to have been looking at various options for the business in an attempt to stave off administration, including trying to find a buyer.
At the beginning of the year First Quench warned some of its stores would close if it was unable to renegotiate rents with landlords.
A turnaround plan was put in place, including cost savings, the closure of loss-making stores and cutting of stock.
First Quench is already said to have warned over its ability to continue as a going concern after the business was hit by declining demand and the withdrawal of credit insurance.
Fellow retailer Blacks Leisure is also facing a survival battle today as a debt repayment deadline looms.
The outdoor chain said first-half losses had almost trebled and it is scrambling to secure a debt restructuring plan for lender Lloyds Banking Group.