C&C Group PLC bought Matthew Clark (Holdings) Ltd and Bibendum PLB from administrators PwC earlier this month. The deal saw the group pick up the two wholesalers for 1p having agreed to pay back debt of around £100m, facilitated by a loan from AB InBev. Conviviality has said that all trade creditors of its Conviviality Direct business – of which Matthew Clark and Bibendum is a part – would be “paid in full” as a result of the deal with C&C. The pre-pack deal also included Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse.
The move comes following the news that Conviviality had failed to secure additional funding of £125m that was needed to pay HMRC, suppliers and provide working capital.
Conviviality bought Bibendum for £60m in May 2016 and prior to that had paid around £400m for Matthew Clark which employs 140 people in Scotland.
Matthew Clark customer Iain Pert of PG Taverns told DRAM, “I’m delighted that someone has bought Matthew Clark and people are keeping their jobs. I haven’t dealt with C&C before but I don’t think about buying wine from Tennent’s. So I think it’s good move for them too. Hopefully normal service will resume as soon as possible.”
Certainly the move brings a new dynamic to the wholesale market in Scotland. Ian Cumming, Commercial Director for Inverarity Morton said, “The trade has changed a lot over the years, and this is certainly going to be a big change. As far as we are concerned we will keep doing what we do well and strive to continually improve our offering. I’ve no doubt this will bring opportunities for us as well as some obvious threats. We’re family run since 1945 and we have always prided ourselves on providing a quality service and unparalleled range, and we will continue to concentrate on that.”
So what now for licensees who trade with Matthew Clark? In the short term business should return almost to normal. A spokesman for Molson Coors, who currently use Matthew Clark as a route-to-market in Scotland said, “We are working with the new owners of Matthew Clark directly and are focused on making sure that the availability of our brands and service to our joint customers is the first priority. We will be in a position to update more over the course of the next few weeks.”
Licensees that have retro deals due to pay out in May will have to wait and see if C&C honours the commitment,. Those that have outstanding debts owed to Matthew Clark will now owe that money to the administrators.
The next six months will certainly be interesting as C&C re-organise and integrate the Matthew Clark and Bibendum operations with its own. It was partly the failure of Conviviality to integrate its businesses smoothly that led to its cash crisis.
Stephen Glancey (pictured) wrote to all employees following the deal he said, “Matthew Clark and Bibendum are also fundamentally strong businesses and under proper stewardship we will have a great future together.” And in a nice touch he went on to say, “…as a thank you for your efforts over the last few weeks the company will be distributing £40 vouchers for you and your family to enjoy at any casual dining Group restaurant.”
Another deal done this month has been the sale of Accolade, one of Australia’s top wine producers and owner of the Hardys and Banrock Station labels, by CHAMP Private Equity to the Carlyle Group. Coincidentally it was Champ that sold Matthew Clark to Conviviality.