Threshers has sights set on Oddbins

Off-licence chains Oddbins and Threshers could be heading towards a merger as press reports suggest the owners of the two chains have held preliminary talks about a possible merger.

According to the reports, Castel Freres, which bought Oddbins for £57m in 2001 was approached by private equity firm Vision Capital, which owns Threshers, about a possible deal and executives from Vision and Castel are also said to have held a secret meeting to discuss a number of other matters of collaboration, such as operations and corporate social responsibility.

Oddbins has suffered over recent years, reporting increased pre-tax losses of £8.6m in the year to December 31 2006. The chain has lost significant market share to supermarket chains and other retailers that are able to cut prices in order to secure market share.

Vision appointed Yvonne Rankin as Threshers’ chief executive, after buying it earlier this year. Vision, which is run by former Goldman Sachs banker Julian Mash, bought the off-licence chain from Edmund Truell just two weeks after he bought it from Guy Hands’ Terra Firma.