Venus deal saves Wine Rack name

The Wine Rack brand name and a package of 13 of the best-performing stores have been bought by wholesaler Venus Wine & Spirit from First Quench administrator KPMG.

The stores are all based in Venus’s London and south east England heartland, and the 90 staff who work in them are being retained.

A new company, LCL Enterprises, has been formed to run the Wine Rack business, headed by Venus chairman Laki Christoforou.

Arthur Rackham, chairman of Surrey-based agency Emporia Brands – who has a shop of his own in Guildford – will be vice chairman.

Rackham’s Winelands store was being rebranded as Wine Rack this week, bringing the number in the new chain up to 14.

Staff from all of the stores were told about the deal in person 24 hours ahead of completion, said Rackham.

A manager’s meeting to outline the pre-Christmas position was held on Thursday. Another meeting is planned for January to preview longer-term plans.

Stores were being restocked from the Venus depot in Tottenham, north London, this week.

Rackham said: “We’ve got a great bunch of managers and we’ve taken on one of the best district managers in the business, plus one of the assistant buyers. In all, we’ve taken nearly 100 people into the new venture.

“We want to get through Christmas and then build the business up, and the meeting this week is to tell managers about our vision and operations.

“One of the priorities is to make sure stores have stock and we expect to get the supply chain up and running this week.”

All stores will have new IT systems within six weeks, Rackham added.

LCL will have its headquarters at Venus, with Emporia’s Guildford headquarters acting as a satellite office.

Christoforou said: “The shops were all profitable, with excellent hard-working staff and managers, and are well supported by customers in their areas.

“As one of the leading wine and spirit distributors in the London area, these Wine Rack stores will fit well into our existing retail and wholesale business infrastructure.”

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