Relaunched Oddbins eyes expansion

28 October, 2011

The newly relaunched Oddbins chain is exploring sites as it considers expanding next year. 

European Food Brokers, owned by Raj Chatha, bought 37 Oddbins stores in April after the chain went into administration, and appointed Ayo Akintola, its former HR director, to run the operation. 

Akintola relaunched the chain last week with a new range of wines and a strategy to give greater autonomy to its managers to focus on local marketing and tastes. 

As well as being able to choose what to stock, staff will be able to decide how they range their stores, either by country or by grape variety. 

Akintola said the new business would benefit from a lower cost base and sharing resources with EFB. 

He said: “EFB is one of the largest drinks distributors in the UK. We will be able to take advantage of that and its expertise in the sector.”

The company confirmed that it is looking at “a number of potential new branch locations”, but that no new store openings were planned “for this side of Christmas”. 

EFB is using the Oddbins name through a licensing agreement with Layburn Enterprises, which bought the rights to it – including oddbins.com – earlier this year. Akintola refused to reveal details of the deal or the company which owns the brand, but said the licence arrangement would last “a very long time”. 

Suppliers have voiced their support for the chain. 

James Forbes, buying and marketing director at Stevens Garnier and a former Oddbins buyer, said: “It’s an exciting time. With sound financial support it can do what it wants and rip up the rule book, which seems to be part of the new philosophy. It wants to have a much stronger dialogue with staff and consumers and to be a bit more independent. 

“Theoretically, there is no reason why it couldn’t do that because it has a much more manageable number of stores. When it was 240 shops, it would have been impossible.”

Hatch Mansfield managing director Patrick McGrath MW said: “We want a resurgent Oddbins and it’s important to see people doing well on the high street. You have to take the right precautions, but it is well backed and we believe in Oddbins. It’s a very strong brand name, we hope it will succeed.”

But another supplier was more cautious. He said: “We didn’t supply the old Oddbins and we couldn’t engage with this one either. Even if you can get cover, so there is an element of insurance, none of the big brands could supply it because it’s very small in terms of credit.”

An Oddbins spokesman said: “All transactions with suppliers are carried out by EFB, which has a faultless track record in its dealings with suppliers. Therefore credit insurance is never an issue. Every supplier that deals with EFB is able to secure credit insurance.” 




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