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Bidders line up for failed off-licences.

INTEREST in the failed Threshers and Wine Rack group has been "overwhelming", as potential buyers line up ahead of yesterday's deadline for bids, said administrators for parent firm First Quench.

Greggs the bakery chain and a private equity firm are among the parties to express interest before the deadline for first-stage bids.

Administrators KPMG said around 700 independent business people have also registered interest in snapping up local off-licences. Greggs confirmed it is considering a bid for around 100 stores, while buyout specialist Endless is thought to be one of a smaller number keen to take over all of the shop portfolio.

Richard Fleming, UK head of restructuring at KPMG and joint administrator of First Quench, is hoping to conclude the sale process by the end of the month, although it is unclear at this stage whether the firm and its brands will be kept largely intact or if KPMG will have to break up and sell the stores.

First Quench - which also trades as The Local, Haddows, Bottoms Up and Victoria Wine - fell into administration last month after struggling in the recession.

KPMG has already announced the closure of 373 loss-making stores with the loss of 1,738 retail jobs, on top of more than 110 at the head office in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

But it is now hoping to secure a sale of the 800 remaining stores, juggling the needs of creditors and staff and the desire to offload First Quench as a going concern.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 14, 2009
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