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Scotland’s oldest wine merchant closes

Scotland's oldest wine merchant, Cockburns of Leith, has collapsed after becoming the latest victim of the economic downturn.

Cockburns, established 214 years ago, once counted famous authors Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens among its customers, and was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1822 after supplying wine to King George IV for a state banquet.

But the company, now based in Abbeyhill, Edinburgh, went into administration at the end of last week, and so far five of its seven staff have been made redundant.

Administrators from Ernst and Young are now attempting to sell Cockburns’ trading name and stock, and say there has been ‘strong interest’ from prospective purchasers.

‘The group has been impacted by the recent economic downturn, which has unfortunately led to a declining order book and the directors concluding that the business can no longer continue to trade,’ said joint administrator Colin Dempster.

The company was founded in the port of Leith in 1796 by Robert Cockburn, a member of a prominent local family which also established the Cockburn’s Port business.

Sir Walter Scott once made a single order for 350 cases of wine and 36 cases of spirits.

After a number of changes of ownership in the 1990s, the company was subject to a management buyout in 2004.

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Written by Richard Woodard

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