MORE than 200 workers in the region were made redundant yesterday as a struggling major drinks wholesaler announced it had been unable to find a buyer for the business.
Beer, wine and spirits wholesaler Waverley TBS, which employs more than 208 staff at its base in Felling, Gateshead, revealed last week that it had called in experts from Deloitte with the hope of selling the business as a going concern.
But, yesterday, staff were given the devastating news that their jobs could not be saved.
The joint administrators of Waverley TBS Ltd (Waverley), the wholesale distributor of drinks, are to scale down efforts to sell the business as a going concern, having been unable to find a buyer.
Waverley will continue to operate with a reduced workforce while the administrators now begin to realise value from the assets of the business. As a result, 685 employees in total were made redundant.
Daniel Butters, joint administrator and restructuring services partner at Deloitte, said: “Regrettably, despite our continued efforts, we have been unable to identify a suitable buyer for the business.
“While we will continue to consider offers for the sale of the business as a going concern, we will now focus on realising value from the company’s assets.
“Unfortunately, it has been necessary to make 685 redundancies at Waverley’s sites across the UK. We will retain a core team of 97 employees to assist us in realising value from the company’s assets.”
The administrators are working closely with Job Centre Plus to provide support and advice to employees who have been made redundant, and the Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payments Service has put together a team to quickly approve claims for employee entitlements.
Butters said: “We are extremely grateful to the staff and management for their support throughout this difficult time. We would also like to thank the Job Centre and Insolvency Service for their cooperation and help.”
The company has suffered in recent years as the number of pubs and bars in the UK has reduced. More than 6,000 pubs have closed in the last four years as the smoking ban, beer duty increases and competition from supermarkets have taken their toll.
Waverley, which was originally the wholesale arm of brewing giant Scottish & Newcastle, cut 63 jobs in Gateshead five years ago when it shut a Gateshead packaging plant and moved the work to Manchester. The Hertfordshire business was taken over along with the rest of S&N by Heineken in 2008 in a joint deal with Carlsberg.
Waverley was acquired for £19.2m in cash and loan notes in June 2010 by a management buy-in team led by former Heineken UK boss Jeremy Blood. It posted a pre-tax profit of £4.2m last year, despite a 12% drop in turnover.