Conviviality shares suspended amid funding concerns

Shares of Crewe-based alcohol wholesaler and distributor Conviviality Plc — which owns Bargain Booze and Wine Rack — were temporarily suspended on Wednesday as it announced that a £30 million tax demand has left it with a “short term funding requirement.”

Conviviality also said on Wednesday it would cancel the interim dividend of 4.5p per share that was due to be paid on March 16, a move that would improve the firm’s cash provision by £8.2 million.

Wednesday’s announcements were just the latest pieces of alarming news from the firm in the last week that included a profit warning that sent its shares down 60%.

On Wednesday, it said in a statement: “The company has engaged PwC to assist it in its forthcoming discussions with HM Revenue & Customs and its key stakeholders including its lending banks, credit insurers, suppliers and other creditors, as well as to determine the potential impact of any resulting funding requirement on the company’s adjusted EBITDA expectation and compliance with its banking covenants.

“Following preliminary advice received from PwC, whilst there can be no guarantee, the board believes this short term funding requirement will be satisfactorily resolved.”

Conviviality added on Wednesday: “Further to the announcements made by Conviviality Plc on 8 March 2018 and 13 March 2018, the company yesterday identified a payment due to HM Revenue & Customs of approximately £30.0 million which falls due for payment on 29 March 2018 and which has not been accrued for within its short term cash flow projections.

“This has created a short term funding requirement.

“The company’s announcement on 13 March 2018 confirmed an expected range of adjusted EBITDA of between £55.3 million and £56.4 million.

“To the extent that the current situation creates operational difficulties, this may negatively impact the adjusted EBITDA range.

“The company is currently in compliance with its banking covenants.

“The next covenant test date is 29 April 2018.”

On March 8, shares of  Conviviality plummeted 60% after it warned in a trading update its earnings would be 20% below market expectations.

Conviviality blamed last week’s warning on a “material error in the financial forecasts” of its Conviviality Direct business.

Then, on Tuesday, Conviviality said further: “Further to the (March 8) announcement, the company can confirm that the prevailing market expectations for adjusted EBITDA at the time of the announcement were a range of £69.1 million to £70.5 million.

“Based on the guidance provided that the company expects adjusted EBITDA for the current year to be approximately 20% below market expectations, the company confirms an expected range of adjusted EBITDA of £55.3 million – £56.4 million.”