C&C set to buy Conviviality’s wholesale business

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Irish drinks group C&C says it is in advanced discussions to buy Conviviality’s wholesale business which trades as Matthew Clark and Bibendum.

C&C, whose brands include Magners cider and Tennent’s beer, is being supported in its bid by AB Inbev.

In a statement this morning it said: “The proposed acquisition is conditional upon, among other things, the appointment of administrators to Conviviality Brands Limited (the seller), which is expected to occur later today.”

Last week, Conviviality, which distributes drinks to some 25,000 hotels, pubs and restaurants, said it planned to appoint administrators within days after it failed to meet its refinancing target of £125 million.

The businesses acquired by C&C would include Matthew Clark (Holdings) Limited and Bibendum PLB (Topco) Limited and their subsidiary businesses Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse (together “Matthew Clark Bibendum”).

The business had been headed by Mark Aylwin, former supply chain director of Safeway, who stepped down in January 2018 after completing the integration of Matthew Clark and Bibendum into Conviviality Direct.

Conviviality’s a retail business, which under the Bargain Booze, Wine Rack and Select Convenience fascias, is not included in C&C the deal.

A statement from Conviviality confirmed that it is in discussions with C&C in respect  of a possible sale to C&C of the Conviviality Direct business.  “The Company is also in discussions with a number of other parties interested in the purchase of the Retail business.”

Trading in Conviviality’s shares was suspended on 14th March after it discovered a £30m payment to HMRC which it had not accounted for in its cash flow projections.

In the latest audited accounts for the 52 weeks ended 30 April 2017, Matthew Clark Bibendum had gross revenues of £1,219 million and adjusted EBITDA of £51.3 million.

However, in its trading update of 21 March 2018, the board of Conviviality PLC said that they expected that the adjusted EBITDA for the entire Conviviality group for the year ending 29 April 2018 to be in the range of £45.5 million to £46.0 million.

Gross assets of approximately £230 million are expected to be acquired at completion. Consideration for the shares would be a nominal sum, and C&C would provide sufficient funds to support the on-going working capital and other cash requirements of the business.

Customers of Matthew Clark Bibendum include JD Wetherspoons, The Ivy, Prezzo, Searcys, and Revolution Bars Group.

Conviviality operates a large distribution network with owned depots in Glasgow, Wetherby, Runcorn, Crewe, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Birmingham Shepton Mallet, Southampton, Crayford, Park Royal and Bedford.

There are five stockless outbases: Launceston, Didcot, Grantham, Boldon and Dundee.

There are also three depots operated by logistics partners: Reading, Bristol, and Bellshill.

C&C chief executive 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.”

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