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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Stuart Peskett

More than 50 organisations are in the running to buy out off-licence chain Unwins. The company insists that a sale is not definite, but chairman Michael Lunn said that Unwins had received a substantial amount of interest' - with rival Thresher (owned by investment company Terra Firma) admitting it was watching the situation with interest'. A confidential memo has been sent to each interested party with facts and figures about Unwins, to help them decide whether to proceed or not. Lunn added: The board will consider the most appropriate potential acquirers who will progress to the next stage of the process. It is the board's intention that any potential sale should provide Unwins' shareholders with a suitable return and provide the group and its employees with a secure future.' Lunn admitted in May that Unwins was in need of a cash injection to develop its initiatives' after the launch of its Phillips Newman Wine Merchants brand, which has shown early signs of success (see Harpers, p5, 2 July). John Hart, Unwins wine sourcing manager, was understandably, and, it seemed, quite genuinely non-committal when he spoke to Harpers: As far as I'm aware, it's a wide range of interested parties,' he said. I'd be very upset if Unwins ceases to be, having been there for 22 years. I'd like to see Unwins carry on and carry out the projects we'd like to do, and continue the Phillips Newman concept.' A spokesman for the Booze Buster chain (owned by Irish company BWG) said it was always interested in acquisitions and possibilities', and that it had not ruled anything out. A number of venture capitalist companies are also likely to be interested.