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Bibby Line still hungry for acquisition in retail.

Bibby Line Group, which owns a controlling stake in Costcutter, has admitted it is seeking acquisitions following two failed bids for Nisa-Today's last year.

In the company's annual report, published this week at Companies House, MD Sir Michael Bibby and chairman Simon Sherrard revealed they had been frustrated last year because the company had failed to make a single acquisition.

"We had the appetite to acquire other businesses and secure major new contracts but very few of the many opportunities we reviewed were concluded," said Sir Michael. "This was largely due to the uncertainty in the economic outlook, which meant that when it came to the crunch most people shied away from taking big decisions."

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Bibby Line has interests in distribution, oil and gas, financial services and the marine industry, and kick-started its acquisition plans last month by snapping up transport and warehousing solutions company Taygroup, but the company is understood to be keen to expand its interests in retail. It has repeatedly been linked with Martin McColl, the 1,252 chain c-store and CTN giant. Last week the 20% stake in Martin McColl held by HBOS was sold by Lloyds Banking Group to private equity group Coller Capital. Industry figures said Bibby would be interested in larger c-store businesses to extend Costcutter's estate.

The accounts also revealed that question marks remain over Costcutter's membership of Nisa-Today's. Although Costcutter has maintained it will stay with Nisa until at least 2014 when its contract runs out, Sir Michael revealed the group was "assessing the various options for supplying products to Costcutter members".

However, Costcutter is unlikely to break the contract, a source said. "They have provided reassurances in the past that Bibby would honour the existing contract with Nisa."

Bibby's turnover rose 5.3% to [pounds sterling]1.09bn in the year to 31 December, with pretax profits down 5% to [pounds sterling]21.8m. Costcutter revenues rose 10% year-on-year.

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Title Annotation:WHOLESALERS & INDEPENDENTS
Author:Phillips, Beth
Publication:Grocer
Date:Jul 17, 2010
Words:321
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