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First Quench owes creditors £41m, Threshers and Wine Rack sold

Some of the wine industry’s biggest names are owed millions of pounds following the collapse of the First Quench retail empire, it has emerged.

According to documents filed by administrators KPMG with Companies House, the owner of retail chains including Threshers and Wine Rack owed £41m to unsecured creditors, many of them leading wine suppliers, when it collapsed late last year.

Drinks giant Diageo is owed close to £2m, about two-thirds of it through its Percy Fox wine arm, which distributes brands including Blossom Hill and Pommery Champagne.

Other major creditors include Errazuriz and Villa Maria agent Hatch Mansfield, owed more than £800,000, and importer Thierry’s, due more than £700,000 via its main business and its Edward Cavendish subsidiary.

Bollinger and Taylor’s Port agent Mentzendorff is owed nearly £500,000, Pernod Ricard more than £450,000 and Constellation almost £250,000.

While administrators are confident that secured creditors will be reimbursed in full, unsecured creditors usually only recoup a fraction of the monies due to them. A creditors’ meeting was held in London yesterday (6 January).

The Threshers trading name has been rescued along with 22 stores after the administrators signed a deal with SEP Properties, operator of Dave’s Discount Stores.

KPMG had earlier sold 84 store leases, as well as the Wine Rack trading name.

But 845 of First Quench’s 1,202 shops have closed since the company went into administration, with the loss of nearly 6,000 jobs.

First Quench made a combined operating loss of nearly £75m in the two years to June 2009, and the company also owes £13.7m in unpaid duty to HM Revenue & Customs.

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Written by Richard Woodard

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