Essex chain snaps up ex-FQR stores

15 October, 2010

A new off-licence chain in Essex has taken over 12 former First Quench stores.

Jubilee Wines is opening 15 stores in all and will have eight operational by the end of October, with a further two on stream in November. The remaining stores are being redeveloped by landlords ahead of reopening in 2011.

The company is owned by several private investors and has appointed former First Quench head office employee Andy O’Reilly as its operations manager.

O’Reilly worked in franchise operations for First Quench before it went into administration in October 2009.

“We picked up some stores from the demise of First Quench,” said O’Reilly, “but we decided to wait for stores to come back to landlords rather than go through the bidding process.

“If you get into a bidding war it very often means you don’t get stores at the correct value. It’s a more long-term process but it has been worthwhile.”?O’Reilly said the former First Quench stores were a mix of Wine Rack, Threshers and The Local brands.

“We’re keen to target each store individually to the local market. All the shops will trade as Jubilee Wines but we’re not going down the corporate route that says every shop has to look the same. What works in one location doesn’t necessarily work in another.

“Shenfield, which was our first opening, is a very affluent area, so we have a traditional wine mix and wines that have a relatively high value. Grays is more of a traditional off-licence driven by beer and value-for-money lines, where offers such as three-for-£10 or three-for-£12 work well.”?O’Reilly said Jubilee’s owners had

onger-term expansion plans. “After we’ve got these open there’s going to be a period of settling down and consolidation to get some results and profit in the bank.

“In the current economic climate it’s important not to expand too fast.”?Jubilee is employing around 60 staff, many of whom come from First Quench backgrounds, O’Reilly said.

He added that Jubilee had received good support from suppliers.

“We’ve seen a mixture of responses,” he said. “There are those who have been cautious and we absolutely appreciate that position. But it’s been interesting to see the number who have been willing to work with us on expanding the business.

“We’ve got a number who have been very good to us so far, but we’re always on the lookout for new suppliers.”?Ian Tomlinson, executive chairman of the firm’s EPOS supplier Cybertill, said: “Some off-licences have suffered due to the economy and supermarkets’ burgeoning share, but Jubilee offers something a little different to the consumer. These are certainly exciting times.”

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