Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Sunday, 24 April 2011

#Oddbins: Deloitte no deal done yet – "all a bit fluid"

Phone call this morning from Lee Manning of Deloitte to tell me that no deal has been done. "No deal – your information is wrong. We were very close to a deal but it didn't happen. We are now reviewing the options. It may not turn out as we thought it would a few days ago. Nothing is likely to happen tomorrow but can't say for sure. All a bit fluid at the moment."

If there is a deal to be done, with perhaps EFB as the leading contender, then I hope for the sake of the remaining Oddbins' staff it is done soon. Otherwise, the longer the process is drawn out the more branches are likely to close, the business will cease to be a going concern and Oddbins will be Dodobins.  


Anonymous said...

Well frankly the staff are getting pretty hacked off with learning all of their information via the internet rather than directly from Deloittes.

Now we hear we aren't getting paid for work we have done since the 20th until the middle of next month (if at all, one suspects)

All this because Deloittes dont seem to be able to close a deal. Well earlier posts on here show there are deals to me made so tell us, Lee Manning, what's the hold up?

I was off today anyway but I hear that 30 branches didn't open today because of a sickness bug that appears to be going round and that there are another group of staff who seem to be coming down with something tonight so may not be able to work tomorrow.

Let's hope some good news will perk them up enough to get back to work or there won't be anything for Deloittes to sell (or earn their fees off) for much longer...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the staff are not too pleased with the situation (me being one of them), but first of all 4th of May is not the middle of the month and I think we're all pretty fortunate to get paid at all in this situation (same doesn't go for suppliers). And don't we want Oddbins to survive?! Then why, pardon my French, sh*t on your own doorstep and come down with a misterious "sickness"?! That's just unprofessional and only causes more harm. And I thought Oddbins staff were meant to be one of its biggest assets... Let's not prove that one wrong.

Dr Jeremy Howard said...

Intriguing as always Jim. But in the interests of fairness we should point out - should we not? - that Deloittes have a legal obligation to secure the best deal for creditors. Of course they will take into account other factors but if they conclude a deal that is good for branches and staff but not the best deal for creditors they would land themselves into a world of legal pain with their 'client' the creditors (and particularly those eager chaps at HMRC). So they have to weigh up the benefits of any bid for the whole entity against the amount to be realised from an immediate liquidation right?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 20.07, either you are from the Deloittes PR department or you work in a different branch to the rest of us.

Firstly to find out via our branches in Ireland that we are not being paid our full pay after being assured by Deloittes that we will be paid our full pay, is a disgrace. We should have been told so we can plan our finances accordingly. If it hadn't leaked from Ireland when were they planning on telling us? A day before payday? I dont know who are, but like lots of mangers I know there is no way my staff can cope with being paid less than they had worked for and were expecting, giving that at the best of times they were always asking for advances to make ends meet, how do they cope with a one day delay in payment, talk less of 7 or 14 days.

To suggest that by taking direct action of not working knowing we would not be paid fot it is being unprofessional is a insult giving all we have gone through over the past 4 months. I will be at work till am told otherwise or my branch is closed, but it is not my place nor yours to judge the action that othets might take having been treated like footmats by all and sundry, the latest being Deloittes.

Anonymous said...

We have been emailed by Lee manning. Confirming we will be paid for the hours they have not paid us ( a week) hopefully this us true. It saddens me some staff have possibly decided not to turn up for work this is unprofessional and let's our customers down. Without our reputation for professionalism we are nothing.

Anonymous said...

So, does this mean that we will be paid on the 28th as normal, but a weeks wages short? Havent been in today, and not read the email yet, slightly confused......

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, we get paid for our 1st-20th April hours on the 28th, and then the 21st-30th ones about a week later.

Anonymous said...

If staff arent turning up and shops are shut when they are meant to be open it can only do harm. I work for whats left of oddbins and
I suggest we turn up and do our jobs and stop acting like children.

Anonymous said...

People are talking about the need for Oddbins staff to remain 'professional'...but the trouble is, professionalism works both ways doesn't it? I don't find Deloitte's near-silence towards staff very professional, for example.

I mean, most of us appreciate that administation is complex and that deals take ages to finalise. We also appreciate that it's largely secretive. We also appreciate that Lee Manning is a busy man. But an occasional/brief email update that much to ask? You can't blame people for getting suspicious and resentful, or for contemplating wildcat strikes. Silence is really unsettling.

But then administration's a surreal experience generally. Nobody's really in charge. You can pretty much do what you like. Who's going to reprimand anybody for anything?

Anonymous said...

Administration proves that in the final analysis only money talks (cf. shutting good-performing branches when a decent offer comes in for the leases) - so no one should be surprised when staff decline the invitation to provide a service in advance of payment when payment for previously provided services fail to materialise.

Or are we to assume that the staff are there to sit there placidly as they are kicked again and again and again?

The sacked staff are beginning to look like the lucky ones

Anonymous said...

The daily takings will help to pay the staff's wages. I am not sure if taking action might also prejudice any subsequent payment of redundancy payments.

Until this process is finished, we need to look after our own interests by working as "normal"

Any shortfall from Deloitte should be payable by the government

Anonymous said...

"I think we're all pretty fortunate to get paid at all in this situation"

Gratitude shouldn't be a factor - administrators are legally obliged to pay staff for hours worked.

Jim's Loire said...

Jeremy Howard: 'that Deloittes have a legal obligation to secure the best deal for creditors".

Indeed a fair point Jeremy but Oddbins' staff are surely crucial assets and among the few that the company has left or do I have an old fashioned view of retail?

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an all too familiar pattern emerging here.

Oddbins staff are generally viewed as one of the main assets of the business and are seen as incredibly professional by the trade and customers(and themselves)alike. This professionalism appears to have been viewed as uncomplaining compliance by Simon Baile and more recently by Deloittes. Surely if no one recognises or responds positively to your "professionalism" then you are just a sap who goes along with whatever is presented to them for an easy life?

To the person who says we are letting down our customers by not opening, can I respectfully suggest you take a look around your shop at the empty shelves and consider that we might be doing that already? Unless of course, all your customer wants is Miles from Nowhere.

I appreciate it might be a bit tougher getting Lee Manning to talk than Simon Baile, but with staff too professional to question the competence and motivations of the administrators, Jim can you keep pushing for answers please?

Jim's Loire said...

Latest Anon. I will continue to contact Deloitte to ask for updates.

Anonymous said...

Part One

Imagine a Bordeaux Chateau that has seen better days; it should not be too hard; the region is packed with pedigree pads that have not been looked after in recent years and passed over for trendier locales. Not dissimilar to those E - Type Jags one sees in the Midlands - they make you smile because of the memories they engender, but you know that they have had too many owners and not enough money spent on spare parts to offer a smooth ride.

Well this Chateau is of that ilk - it has had several owners all of whom did not quite bring enough investment to take the wine it produces to the next level. That is not to say grounds men and winery workers have not done the best with what they have been given, the truth be told without them, the Chateau will not even be in existence now.

The latest owners followed the same well-worn track and with much pomp and self-aggrandising declared they were on hand to return the property to its former position. They were very happy to bask in the glory of the name. What better dinner party brag than, “Do you know what I bought the other day?” but unfortunately with a background more akin to that of allotment gardening than full scale agriculture, their tenure was doomed from the very start.

Recently, the Grand Old Chateau was repossessed. The estate agents have it on the market, and as well as trying to find an outright buyer who will, or will not, make the same mistakes as the previous owners, they also have the option to sell the vineyards separately, or cut them up into smaller plots. Of course, selling only part of the estate does not solve the whole problem, but it does mean that some of the prestigious vineyard can continue to produce fruit and provide work for the local pickers and winery workers.

However, the catch is the estate agents get paid for as long as the property is on their books and the clock stops as soon as the first sale goes through. On top of that, they get their money from the day to day running of the Chateau such as it is. They take before the tractor driver, Electricity Company or even the milkman. They really are in no hurry to kill the golden goose, even if that means that good grapes go to waste.

This is of course an allegory about Oddbins about which much opinion and thought has been written. More often than not, the commentary to date takes a Darwinian point of view that says failure is deserved. Full stop. Bring in the bulldozers and knock down the chateau and vineyards.

This piece aims however, to show the unfairness of the party that holds the balance i.e. the estate agents or Deloitte in real life, for whom the stats quo limbo is their payday. One would not be comfortable with such a conflict of interests with a standard property sale. For those that say the administrators are there to protect creditors, Deloitte’s fees come out of each and every stock sale made. Before any suppliers and creditors. Before the staff. They are milking the cow before it goes to the dairy.

We might want to ask creditors of First Quench, how much money they have received from KPMG their administrator and while we at it, we might want to ask how much fees KPMG have taken out of the pot. The answers to these two questions will shock every one as the disparity between both sets of figures is beyond any form of “protecting creditors” mantra. Deloitte’s are suppose to be the honourable guys that come in sell the property quickly and paid the creditors promptly, alas as we all know an estate agent is always an estate agent and they have shown themselves to be no different.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

There is a second aim to this piece, hopefully one that appeals to the wine fraternity who often champion the underdog in the form of an old parcel of once prestigious vines. They shout along the lines ‘don’t blame the vines! Don’t let them go to ruin! You’ll be sad when they are gone!” even if that parcel was mismanaged by their previous owners and unprofitable. Vines are seen as something of a shared treasure.

I am not excusing the previous owners, or the ones before them or the ones before them. They were vain. They ran an old name without imagination and in an unprofitable manner. But let us not visit the sins of the father’s on the children, nor let an outsider’s greed for fees prevent a future for wines on our high street and jobs for wine lovers. I see a correlation between Oddbins and Chateau Pontet-Canet, all Oddbins needs now is a retail equivalent of Guy Tesseron, lets hope the outsider’s greed doesn’t prevent this from happening, as this will be the biggest crime of this whole saga.

Jim, you have been fearless in your approach and have been the one person who asked the right questions at the right time, please don’t allow the good work you have embarked on since this saga began to be diminished by giving Deloitte’s an easy pass, they are actors in this play and their motives, capability, actions and intentions should be challenged.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine that any professional would work without being paid to do so. We're already near enough to the minimum wage, and £400 may not be a lot to an accountant, but when it's half your pay packet it is quite different.
We need some reassurances that we will get paid, and when. To not pay someone for work done is theft; What would happen if I didn't pay Deloites for working out my tax for example.

I'm slightly hacked off by the whole thing. Is it unreasonable to want to know what is going on before you hear about it from the internet.

Anonymous said...

In fact I'm so annoyed my punctuation has escaped me!

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about not being paid?! We are getting paid! The latest e-mail from Deloitte explains.

Anonymous said...

A lack of reliable information always results in rumour, speculation, and so on. I did say IF we're not paid. We've been told so many differing stories. What is wrong in giving Oddbins' staff the information they need. It's demoralising, and insulting, not to mention unprofessional not to tell us what's going on, or at least as much as you are feasibly capable of. We are not crazy, raging communists for wanting some clarity and reassurance. Just as I'm sure the administrators are not just in this for the money (oh...).

Anonymous said...

"It saddens me some staff have possibly decided not to turn up for work this is unprofessional and let's our customers down."

I thought professionals got paid.
Unenthusiastic maybe, but unprofessional certainly not.
With all due respect that argument is rather amature.

Moralising to staff that are not going to be paid is pushing the boat out in my books. It shows no regard for the staff working on minimum wage and how they are going to cope with not being paid.
Having said that i will be going to work, but I don't need a mouth full of BS to do so. It has nothing to do with professionalism, just sheer hope.

As for letting the customers down, well you know who to blame for that and it's not the staff working in the shops.

BTW, Glad I don't work with you.