Threshers stores' fate highlights off-licence woes

A YEAR after Threshers went bust, fewer than a third of its 1,400 stores have been reopened as off-licences, administrators said yesterday.

Only 400 of the stores were sold, mostly bought by small off-licence chains, and the other 1,000 returned to landlords, said accountant KPMG, which is still working on the administration.

The national off-licence business model has been weakened by competition from supermarkets, which with their immense buying power can sell alcohol cheaper than anyone else.

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First Quench, which owned the Threshers, Wine Rack, Victoria Wine, Bottoms Up and Haddows fascia, went into administration with the loss of 6,300 jobs.

Some of First Quench outlets in Scotland were acquired by former investment banker George MacRitchie and drinks industry manager Philip Craig as they look to expand their Winehouse and Cellar No 1 chain of stores.