Industry experts have warned Blakemore’s wholesale arm lacks the value to be sold as a standalone business, amid rumours a deal with Bestway broke down at the last moment.
Several senior industry sources told RN Bestway walked away from talks to buy Blakemore’s depots at the same time as it finalised a £7m acquisition of Conviviality Retail this month. The £7m acquisition was announced soon after Blakemore put its 12 cash and carries up for sale.
Wholesale expert David Gilroy said Blakemore risks being unable to find a buyer if it only offers warehousing facilities. “It’s another cash and carry business, and other wholesalers don’t see anything different to what’s already available.
“Nobody will buy Blakemore’s wholesale business unless it adds something else of value, such as its catering arm. The fact both announcements were released close to each other suggests Blakemore’s sale was announced in distress.”
Conviviality’s deal with Bestway came as it went into administration after failing to generate the £125m required to settle outstanding debt.
Mr Gilroy said the deal, which gives Bestway 769 Bargain Booze, Select Convenience and Wine Rack sites, was an “absolute bargain”. “Bestway has acquired a business with nearly £400m in yearly revenues and sales,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bestway managing director Martin Race made clear in an interview with RN last week that the company would explore all opportunities to “get stronger” – a suggestion that the Blakemore deal did not meet this requirement.
Bay Bashir, who manages four Lifestyle Express stores in Middlesbrough, said he was frustrated, having been told a Bestway-Blakemore deal was “a sure thing”.
“I’ve been in limbo, with poor availability from Blakemore and a deal with Bestway would have put me at ease. But Blakemore has been struggling with availability and I don’t see why anyone would want to inherit those issues,” he said.
Blakemore was contacted by RN but declined to comment.