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Oddbins has high hopes for web if new investors found

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Quirky off-licence chain Oddbins is closing 39 stores and seeking an investor to fund its rescue plans. The company is struggling in the face of tough competition from the supermarkets which account for around 70% of UK wine sales today. However Oddbins says increasing web sales following a successful re-launch of the Oddbins online store in October 2010 are encouraging, and a web strategy will be part of the rescue plan.

The cost structure of running stores means the physical estate of 128 stores is to be reduced to 89. It has already been cut down from 250 since 2001. “This means the web site will become even more important as there will be less representation of the brand across high streets and neighbourhoods in the UK,” a spokeswoman told Internet Retailing.

“While our point of difference has always been wine expertise and the ability to advise customers on the best wines for their budget, the internet can do the same job for us across the digital channel, as well as extending our geographical reach.” She said there was scope for more customer reviews and online customer communities to be developed on the website, and the possibility of m-commerce would be explored, if an investor was found.

The website offers free delivery on orders over £100 and has a next day delivery service.

Oddbins, which is privately-owned, is currently taking advice from restructuring experts at Spectrum Corporate Finance and Deloitte. It is thought an investor from inside the wine trade is being sought. Operating losses were reduced from £8.3m in 2008 to £4.6m in 2009.

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