Matthew Clark and Bibendum acquired by C&C

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Deal rubber stamped: C&C takes ownership of Matthew Clark and Bibendum
Deal rubber stamped: C&C takes ownership of Matthew Clark and Bibendum
Less than 12 hours after officially announcing its interest to buy out Conviviality brands Matthew Clark and Bibendum, C&C Group has confirmed the transaction is now complete.

Yesterday morning (4 April), Magners owner C&C Group announced its intention, with support from AB InBev, to buy Matthew Clark, Bibendum and several subsidiary brands from Conviviality. The deal has now been finalised.

In a statement on the afternoon, C&C Group said: “Further to the announcement this morning that C&C was in advanced discussions to acquire Matthew Clark (Holdings) Limited and Bibendum PLB (Topco) Limited ('Matthew Clark Bibendum'), C&C confirms that the acquisition has now completed in accordance with the terms set out in this morning’s announcement.”

As a result, it now owns 100% of the company, which has been renamed Matthew Clark Bibendum and is set to operate independently of C&C Group, C&C Group CEO Stephen Glancey said in a statement this morning.

C&C now owns Matthew Clark, Bibendum, Catalyst, Peppermint, Elastic and Walker & Wodehouse.

Last month, Conviviality warned it could go bust if bosses failed to secure £125m from investors to pay a £30m tax bill​ and a further £30m in debts to creditors.

Remained confident

Throughout the process, non-executive chairman David Adams, who headed the business after Diana Hunter stepped down from the role, remained confident Conviviality's customers would not be affected by the issue. 

He said in a statement, Conviviality would have relationships with customers "for years to come".

"We're a profitable business with the very best route to market in the UK – and our suppliers, franchisees, producers and customers know this," he added.

"We're very grateful to have so many people across the industry stand by our side and rally around us as we overcome this short-term challenge."

Matthew Clark and Bibendum supply around 25,000 pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, including JD Wetherspoon and Stonegate.

This morning, Glancey said: "We know the Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses very well. They are great businesses with unparalleled on-trade market access, a wide range of supplier relationships and supported by a knowledgeable and loyal employee base.

"The past few weeks have been challenging for employees, customers and suppliers alike. We hope today’s announcement can put an end to this period of disruption and uncertainty."

During a conference call this morning, he explained C&C had been thinking about the acquisition for the past four days.

Crossovers in the two companies

He explained the plan was to run Matthew Clark Bibendum as a separate entity to C&C, but said there were crossovers in the two companies' back-office functions.

There is currently no news on the future of Conviviality's off-trade retail brands Bargain Booze and Wine Rack, however, reports suggest the company is in talks with various interested parties.

Michael Mulligan, legal analyst, partner and insolvency expert at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: "Matthew Clark and Bibendum have been offered a reprieve but Conviviality is not out of the woods yet. While a deal is on the cards, the business is still teetering on the brink of administration.

“Conviviality’s retail operations – Bargain Booze and Wine Rack – may not be attractive propositions for buyers. Consumer spending is dropping and high street retailers are coming under increasing pressure from restrictive rents and rates. There is sure to be some interest, but at what price for unsecured creditors?”

“This latest high-profile collapse signifies the fragile state of the UK’s retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. All businesses should be taking precautions and putting contingency plans in place to protect their operations, should the worst happen.

“Suppliers in any sector should take lessons from this and review key contracts as soon as possible, particularly if large amounts of stock are held offsite by customers. This includes making sure key clauses, such as ‘retention of title’, are valid, seeking legal advice where appropriate and ensuring that there is a plan in place for what to do in a worst-case scenario.”

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