The UK's largest specialist off-licence retailer


Thresher was the largest specialist off-licence (alcohol) retailer in the UK with approximately 2,500 stores selling wine, beer and spirits.

Investment strategy 

Asset-Backed: The business had a strong asset backing, with the property portfolio representing approximately £130m of value.

Requiring Fundamental Change: Thresher offered the opportunity for an operational turnaround through cost reduction, improved procurement and merchandising and a more sophisticated pricing strategy, as well as a rationalisation of the property portfolio.

Creating value

  1. Transforming strategy

    • A comprehensive operational turnaround was implemented, including an improved pricing structure, systematic store and manager performance monitoring and the renegotiation of new supply agreements.
    • Following successful pilots, three new trading strategies were implemented in appropriate store segments. A rebranding excerise was also undertaken with a different brand for the high-, mid- and low-price convenience markets. 
    • The estate was segmented - according to customer type, purchase occasion, location and size - and rationalised, with around 275 unprofitable, low-potential shops closed or sold over a three-year period.
  2. Strengthening management

    • A new senior management team was appointed to drive operational turnaround and the lease renegotiations.
  3. Developing through capital expenditure

    • Threshers invested in a number of new trading strategies and fascias to drive brand recognition.
  4. Building through mergers and acquisitions

    • Threshers acquired approximately 200 stores from Unwins after it had gone into administration.
  5. Lowering the cost of capital to create extra upside

    • Threshers took advantage of the buoyant retail property market by undertaking a significant site-by-site sale-and-leaseback programme over an 18-month period. 

Status of Investment: The Thresher Group was sold to a financial buyer in June 2007.

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