Wine Cellar losses halved thanks to smoke ban and crunch

28 August, 2008

The smoking ban and the credit crunch ha ve helped Wine Cellar almost hal ve its pre-tax loss over the past year, according to bosses of the 185-branch off-licence group.

The latest accounts filed with Companies House show Wine Cellar posted a loss of £769,000 for the year to Jan 27, down from £1.6 million last year. Group sales rose to £62.6 million from £61.1 million in 2007, and like-for-like sales were up 2%.

The directors' report said: "The company continues to buck the trend of the challenging retail alcohol market, on which the business has been traditionally dependent. This is being supported by not only the smoking ban, which was implemented in 2007, but also the credit crunch driving customers to stay at home to socialise."

Wine Cellar's new convenience store fascia - Simply Food & Drinks -

also helped the chain's strong performance, with the 27 stores that have adopted the format achieving year-on-year sales growth of 9%. "These stores have been

more attractive to

consumers than the traditional off-licence," the report said.

Shares in Wine Cellar are held by Manchester's Jebreel family and a trust fund in Jersey with links to them.

The accounts also state that Palmer & Harvey McLane, the tobacco and confectionery wholesaler, is owed £3.8 million and the debt is secured against the company's property assets.

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