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Oddbins sold

UK high street wine chain Oddbins has been sold to the son of a former MD of the company for an undisclosed sum.

Announced yesterday, the deal sees Oddbins change hands from French owner Castel to specialist wine retailer Ex Cellar.

Founded in 1999 by Simon Baile – son of Nick Baile, who ran Oddbins in the mid 70s – and Henry Young, Ex Cellar currently boasts two shops, one in Paris and one in Surrey.

Baile will assume the role of managing director, with Young taking over as chairman. All other members of the management team will remain in place.

‘Our retail background and my knowledge of what used to make Oddbins great will help drive the passion and innovation into this business,’ said Baile.

Baile said there would also be a short period during which they would ‘review the current structure and develop plans for the future’.

One source close to the deal told decanter.com that talks between Castel and Ex Cellars started ‘over a year ago’.

‘The price paid was a lot less than £57m [the sum for which Castel originally bought Oddbins],’ said the source. ‘The original approach was made by Ex Cellar, which was looking to buy a chain of shops, and they were pleased to be offered the lot.’

Although the source said Ex Cellars would have ‘no problems raising that kind of finance’, the official UK government register of companies, Companies House, states that Ex Cellars has yet to file its annual company return – overdue since 26 June. Failure to file is a criminal offence and can lead to a company being struck off for non-compliance.

French wine company Castel, which bought Oddbins in January 2002, has been frequently criticised for its running of the UK wine chain. Earlier this year wine writer Tim Atkin MW called Castel’s management of Oddbins ‘a disaster’.

Rumours of takeover talks with UK high street wine retailer Thresher in December 2007 were brushed off by Castel although Thresher did confirm meetings took place between the two.

Last year, Oddbins reported losses of £8.6m.

Written by Oliver Styles, additional reporting by Sophie Kevany and Jim Budd

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