Irish drinks firm C&C buys Conviviality wholesale arm

Irish drinks firm C&C, whose brands include Bulmers, Magners and Tennent’s, said on Wednesday it bought the wholesale arm of troubled Crewe-based alcohol wholesaler and distributor Conviviality for a nominal fee.

The deal — completed “with the support of AB InBev” — could save most of the 2,600 jobs threatened by the parent company’s expected collapse.

Conviviality’s retail arm operates more than 700 stores under the Bargain Booze and Wine Rack brands.

Conviviality said it is also “in discussions with a number of other parties interested in the purchase of the retail business.”

Shares of C&C rose about 9% in late trade.

C&C said it bought Conviviality’s wholesale arm Matthew Clark and its wine, spirits and craft beer distributor Bibendum as well as four smaller businesses.

It said the deal involves Matthew Clark (Holdings) Limited and Bibendum PLB (Topco) Limited and their subsidiary businesses Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse.

“Consideration for the shares will be a nominal sum, and C&C will provide sufficient funds to support the on-going working capital and other cash requirements of the business,” said C&C.

“In addition, AB InBev will provide additional financial support to the transaction.

“C&C’s investment will be funded from existing C&C facilities.

“At completion, Matthew Clark Bibendum will have £102 million of working capital facilities provided by its current lender group, repayable in instalments over the 12 months following completion.”

Stephen Glancey said: We know the Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses very well.

“They are great businesses with unparalleled on-trade market access, a wide range of supplier relationships and supported by a knowledgeable and loyal employee base.

“The last few weeks have been challenging for employees, customers and suppliers alike.

“We hope today’s announcement can put an end to this period of disruption and uncertainty.

“We look-forward to working with our new colleagues and other stakeholders to bring stability and restore the group’s position as one of the leading and most respected drinks suppliers to the UK hospitality sector.”