Bargain Booze owner buys Wine Rack for £1.6m

Bargain Booze owner Conviviality Retail has bought the Wine Rack chain from Venus Wine & Spirit Merchants.

Conviviality, which recently floated on the Alternative Investment Market, has paid £1.6 million for the chain, bought by Venus after the collapse of previous owner First Quench in November 2009.

The sale to Conviviality brings the group’s store base up to 633 and gives it a significant entry point into London and south east England – one of its key target areas for expansion – and into upmarket wine retailing.

It also brings a clutch of manger-operated, company-owned stores into a group firmly based on a franchise model.

Conviviality said it intended to offer a franchise opportunity for the Wine Rack format in future including further Wine Rack sites both in the south and other regions.

Ron Booker, Wine Rack’s regional operations manager, will remain with the business.

Under Venus, Wine Rack grew from 13 stores to its current 22 but struggled to keep up with the pace of expansion hoped for by Venus chairman Laki Christoforou shortly after the acquisition.

Venus will continue to supply specialist wine ranges to the Wine Rack chain and these will also be made available to Bargain Booze franchisees.