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Published:  23 July, 2008

The struggling off-licence chain Cellar 5 called in the receivers on 6 November, the same day that former chief executive Nader Haghighi died of a suspected heart attack, at the age of 43. Cellar 5 - which operates 60 Wine Cellars, 310 Booze Busters and 60 Right Choice outlets, employing 3,000 staff - has been looking for a buyer for some time, after struggling to compete in difficult market conditions. According to receiver Les Ross at Grant Thornton, The management has been fighting to shake off the problems with extensive cost-cutting exercises - there's no suggestion of mismanagement - but the market is very competitive at the moment'. Ross was confident, however, that a buyer for the company would be found: We are optimistic a buyer can be found for the company as a whole, but we can't rule out selling the different parts separately'. Although rumours abound, none of the major high-street players has yet made its intentions known, although it seems unlikely that any of the multiple retailers or grocers would want to buy the estate in its entirety. David Simons, the ex-Somerfield boss, took over Cellar 5 (then the Parisa Group) last year, after Haghighi was ousted from his position. A source at Cellar 5 told Harpers that although trading had been patchy' and tough', the financial position of the company had been improving over the last 12 months. Some in the trade felt Haghighi, whose activities had more recently been concentrated in the on-trade, may have been tempted back to the high street by the opportunity of buying the company for a knockdown price.