Online UK wine retailer Slurp has been bought by family wine merchant SH Jones after a lack of cash forced it into administration.
Slurp…’brilliant web platform’
SH Jones has acquired Slurp.co.uk‘s assets for an undisclosed fee, marrying its three high street shops and one cellar store with a stronger online presence, covering the UK. Slurp also has an Asia site, but this is a separate company and not included in the deal.
Jeremy Howard, Slurp.co.uk’s MD, told Decanter.com the UK business had gone into administration prior to the deal.
Despite ‘dramatic sales growth’ between 2009 and 2013, Slurp.co.uk failed to turn a consistent profit and rapid expansion proved a ‘big drain on cash’, said Howard, who said he often dug into his own pocket to keep the firm afloat.
A failed search for outside investment earlier this year precipitated the crash. ‘In spring this year, we had a deal agreed. Then, at the last minute, after everything had been signed and sealed, we learned that the venture capitalist firm had decided not to proceed,’ Howard said. ‘It was extremely disappointing, having done so much work.’
But he believes Slurp can prosper under SH Jones. ‘There’s an opportunity to increase margins through [SH Jones’ access to] ex cellar wines,’ he said.
SH Jones commercial manager Greg Shaw told Decanter.com he moved for Slurp after its administrators sent out letters alerting potential buyers.
He said there is only a small amount of stock left, because Slurp ‘hasn’t been purchasing much for several months’, but that he was won over by the company’s ‘brilliant web platform, which is still operational’.
When asked about the challenge of taking on big supermarkets in the world of online retailing, Shaw said, ‘There’s no two ways about it, it’s going to be competitive. But we have learned a lot from what has happened with Slurp, and not everyone wants to deal with Tesco.’
SH Jones will not take on Slurp’s debt. It has offered all Slurp staff employment, but some have chosen not to relocate and will instead take redundancy. SH Jones also acquired Hawkshead Wines in January this year.
Slurp was shortlisted for National Wine Merchant of the Year award at the Decanter World Wine Awards Retailer Awards 2011.
This article was amended on 29/06 to make clear that Slurp.asia is not included in the sale.
Written by Chris Mercer