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Off-licence franchisees form group to resist being bought by 'unfavourable' buyer

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A number of Threshers’ franchisees have formed an action group to resist being bought by a buyer they view as “unfavourable” according to Retail Week.

The off-licence chain fell into administration on October 29th and 81 redundancies were immediately made at the company's head office.

First Quench Retailing, which also owns The Local, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up, Victoria Wine and Haddows, did not close any of the Thresher stores but appointed administrator KPMG to find a buyer for all or parts of the business.

According to Retail Week, the franchisees want to be given the opportunity to choose whether they want to work for a new owner or not, and are currently considering whether to put in a collective bid to purchase the franchised estate.

Speaking on behalf of the franchisees, lawyer Geoffrey Sturgess said, “Unlike employees, who always have the right to refuse to transfer to a purchaser of a business if they do not like, or disapprove of, their new boss, franchisees can, in theory, be transferred without their consent.”

However, he added, “We are pretty confident that they have the right to walk away if they do not like the purchaser. They are determined to resist any attempt to force them into a sale with which they would be unhappy.

“For obvious reasons they are insisting that any purchaser must undertake to become, and remain, a member of the British Franchise Association and comply with its Code of Ethics. Further, they would require extensive changes to the current franchise contract.

“The franchisees are perfectly happy to take their stores independent if no such purchaser comes forward.”

November 11, 2009