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Rival buys up 200 Unwins stores

HOPES of saving more than 1,000 jobs at the collapsed Unwins off-licence chain have risen with the sale of 200 branches to Threshers.

Threshers has bought 200 former Unwins’ stores from administrators for an undisclosed sum.

However, Unwins’ headquarters in Victoria Road, Dartford, is not part of the deal.

The sale comes less than four days after the administrators were appointed when the 160-year old former family firm collapsed with debts of more than £30m, costing the jobs of 1,400 people.

The 200 stores will re-open soon after the Christmas break for trading under the Thresher brand names.

It is thought hundreds of the jobs in Kent could be saved although the precise locations have not yet been revealed.

KPMG Corporate Recovery, the administrators, said that some Unwins staff made redundant earlier in the week would be offered jobs with the new owners.

Joint administrator Myles Halley said: "This is a good outcome for all concerned. We appreciate it has been a very difficult and uncertain time for staff particularly in the run up to Christmas.

"It is too early to say how many people could be offered new contracts to work for Threshers but it is hoped that approximately 1,200 jobs will be available."

Thresher Group’s chief executive Roger Whiteside said: "This is a great opportunity for the Threshers Group to reinforce its market position in the South East of England.

"We will be working very hard to staff and stock the 200 stores and begin trading as soon as is practical."

Administrators are seeking buyers for the remaining 150 properties.

The Thresher Group operates 1,800 shops nationwide under the "Threshers", "The Local" and "Wine Rack" brand names. It employs more than 12,000 people and is backed by investment group Terra Firma Capital Partners.

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