Deathwatch: The party could soon be over for Oddbins
As the face of retailing continues to morph and evolve kind of like the face of, say, Mickey Rourke, the off licence could be the latest boil to be lanced and removed. That’s our slightly muddled way of telling you that Oddbins are in a bit of bother.
Continued losses have meant that the UK’s last independent off-licence chain is seeking investment as it aims to stay alive. Store closures are also being whispered of as Oddbins tries to avoid repeating the fate of First Quench (owners of Threshers, Wine Rack and The Local) which went bust in 2009.
In the past ten years, the Oddbins store numbers have fallen from 250 to just 128 and some kind of company restructuring is expected to be announced early next week. The main reason for the slump is aggressive discounting by supermarkets, who now take 70% of the UK booze cash carve-up, leaving the indies and corner shops to struggle on.
Oddbins reported losses of £8.3 million in 2008, but they were reduced to just £4.6 million a year later. But a loss is a loss and it’s hard to see how the chain can recover and make a significant profit again. Would they be even be missed or will the humble off licence become a part of retail folklore like pick and mix and naked butchers? Tell us please, you weekend heartthrobs you…