Drinks distributors pick up extra business after WaverleyTBS collapse

Drinks distributors are rallying around former customers of WaverleyTBS in the wake of the firm's collapse.

Aside from picking up additional business, fellow wholesalers are considering buying some of the assets or employing some of the 685 Waverley staff officially made redundant yesterday.

LCL chairman Laki Christoforou, who controls Venus wholesaler and Wine Rack, told Harpers that since WaverleyTBS "went down without notice", it was in a good position to be able to offer a service to businesses struggling to maintain supply. "We cover most of the country with our Leeds and London depots. It's bad news for the industry but good news for us."

He said he would be talking to administrators today about possibly buying parts of the Waverley business. But, he said, "there's not a lot [for administrators] to sell", as many suppliers held retention of title on stock, its vehicles were leased and in general it did not hold a lot of stock.

"Our only interest is in stock," he said, although he is talking to Waverley's human resources department, as he has 8-10 vacancies for wine buyer, national account managers, head office and warehouse staff.

Christoforou has been doing the wine buying for the past 16 months, after his buyer left. But he says it's time to pass on the role. "I do enjoy it but I don't have the time to give it the attention it requires," he said.

Bibendum's managing director Michael Saunders said: "We are responding to enquiries as and when they come in, and we are doing everything we can to help. Obviously this is a very difficult time, and our thoughts are with the staff at WaverleyTBS."

Ian Smith, Matthew Clark's commercial director, said "yesterday was a very sad day for WTBS, their customers, employees and the UK on-trade". Smith added that it has put in place systems to enable Matthew Clark to quickly respond to the needs of former WaverleyTBS customers.

A spokeswoman for Deloitte said it had no further updates to announce at this stage.

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