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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 18:41 GMT
Hundreds laid off as Unwins folds
Wine bottles
The Unwins off-licence chain dates back to 1843
Some 1,400 workers for beleaguered off-licence chain Unwins have been made redundant and all 350 of its stores closed, administrators have said.

Accountants KPMG were called in as administrators at 1700 GMT on Monday by Unwins' main creditor, HBOS.

Unwins bosses had tried to sell several stores recently but were unsuccessful.

Now the firm which bought Unwins earlier this year is starting legal action against the former owners because of "gross accounting" errors.

Owner DM Private Equity is claiming it was told the chain was worth more than it really was.

It has not been possible to contact any of the former parties involved.

The staff made redundant on Tuesday include both full and part-time workers.

Administrator Myles Halley said he appreciated it was a "particularly difficult time of year to announce such news" but there was "no alternative" to ceasing trading.

'No stock'

The Unwins chain can trace its history back to 1843 and was a family-owned business until DM Private Equity bought the chain in March for 32m.

But supermarkets ate into its margins, and store sales failed to stem the red ink. It was also hit by the growing popularity of "booze cruises" to France, where wines and beer are cheaper.

The chain suffered problems in recent weeks after suppliers refused to deliver stock unless they were paid upfront.

With no stock left to trade with the firm began making excessive losses.

By the time the administrators were called in, all but 95 of the group's 350 shops had been closed and 400 staff made redundant.

KPMG said it was retaining a core team of about 20 employees to help the administrators.

Meanwhile, Mr Halley said KPMG was in early discussions with a number of parties about buying the company's stores and head office.

Administrators come in at Unwins
19 Dec 05 |  Business
Unwins off-licences near collapse
15 Dec 05 |  Business
Private equity firm buys Unwins
07 Mar 05 |  Business

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