Jobs go with closure of off-licences

THE administrators at off-licence group First Quench today named a total of 373 stores identified for closure, at a cost of 1,738 jobs. First Quench, which includes the Threshers, Wine Rack, The Local, Haddows, Bottoms Up and Victoria Wine brands, went into administration last week.

THE administrators at off-licence group First Quench today named a total of 373 stores identified for closure, at a cost of 1,738 jobs.

First Quench, which includes the Threshers, Wine Rack, The Local, Haddows, Bottoms Up and Victoria Wine brands, went into administration last week.

The stores due to close in Suffolk are the branches of Threshers in Hadleigh High Street and Dobbs Lane, Kesgrave.

A further 16 stores are to close in Essex, including branches of The Local in High Street, Dovercourt, Maldon Road, Tiptree, and Gloucester Avenue, Chelmsford, the Bottoms Up outlets in High Street, Colchester, and Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, and the Wine Rack store in Market Street, Saffron Walden.


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Across the East of England as a whole there will be a total of 35 closures, with the list also including five in Norfolk - among them The Local in King Street, Thetford - plus eight in Hertfordshire and two each in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

No breakdown of the job losses at individual stores was given by the administrators, but the total redundancy county equates to an average of nearly five per branch.

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Richard Fleming, UK head of restructuring at accountancy firm KPMG and joint administrator of First Quench, said: “Unfortunately, after reviewing the viability of the store network, 373 loss-making stores are to be closed.

“Depending on stock levels, 247 of the stores will continue to trade until November 25, with 126 trading until December 2.”

Closing down sales, with stock being sold off at a discount, will be held at all of the affected stores, starting with immediate effect.

Mr Fleming added: “The remaining stores will continue to be traded as usual while we seek a buyer. So far, we have received considerable interest in the business from a range of buyers, including trade, individual investors and private equity.

“The remaining stores are trading well and we believe they present an attractive investment. We are confident of securing a sale in the coming weeks.”

The job losses represent more than a quarter of the total First Quench workforce of around 6,300 while the store closures amount to nearly a third of the current network of about 1,200 branches.

The administrators said today that they would be writing to the landlords of stores identified for closure, setting out the arrangements for paying any rent due for the trading period during administration together with information on the company's intentions for the immediate future of the property.

And they issued a warning that a court moratorium prevented landlords taking a

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