Off-licence chain axes almost 1,400 jobs

Almost all of Unwins’ 1,400 staff were made redundant yesterday after the off-licence chain went into administration.

Just 20 people were retained after administrators from accountancy firm KPMG closed down the retailer, owned by DM Private Equity.

The only staff who remained after the company’s bankers, HBOS, were called in to assess the finances, are said to be IT workers and property directors, who will assist with winding down the business.

The mass redundancies yesterday followed the axing of 400 jobs last week and the closure of 255 of its 350 stores.

Some critics have expressed surprise over the failure of the biggest off-licence chain in the South East, particularly after the much-publicised reports of the UK being a nation of binge drinkers.

But Myles Halley, joint administrator at KPMG, said: “Unwins has suffered, like other off-licence chains, from increased competition from supermarkets and tight margins. The directors have tried unsuccessfully to restructure or sell the business and it is evident this company is making excessive losses and has no stock to continue to trade.”

Unwins owes around £35m, including £5m in secured loans to HBOS.

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