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Inside Conviviality's acquisition of Bibendum PLB

Published:  03 May, 2016

On Sunday 1 May 2106, Conviviality Retail confirmed it would be acquiring Bibendum PLB for £60 million following shareholder approval. Diana Hunter, chief executive officer of Conviviality Retail and Bibendum PLB chief executive officer Michael Saunders talk with about the deal.

On Sunday1 May 2106, Conviviality Retail confirmed it would be acquiring Bibendum PLB for £60 million following shareholder approval.

Diana Hunter, chief executive officer of Conviviality Retail always had her eye on Bibendum and was waiting for the right time to approach Bibendum PLB's chief executive officer Michael Saunders.

"I was very interested in Bibendum and always have been ever since I came into my role.  I have always admired Bibendum and what Michael has done with the business. Bibendum PLB I think is fabulous. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would target Bibendum as potential acquisition," said Hunter at the first day of the London Wine Fair.

The deal, which will bring Conviviality annual sales turnover to £1.4 billion only solidifies further its role as major player in the UK drinks trade.

While specific details of how the new structure have yet to be revealed, Hunter has met with teams internally to reassure them.

She said: "It will stay within the business alongside Matthew Clark operating as Bibendum PLB. We bought Bibendum because it is an amazing brand and it has an amazing reputation. Its customer base has limited overlap with Matthew Clark and it has a segment of the market that as a business we have not been trading as well in.  So Bidendum is still Bibendum and will continue to serve its customers but with the infrastructure of a larger group behind it. This means better buying power, more efficient distribution, and more customer service, so over time it will strengthen the team."

According to Hunter, the deal was put together in under four months time.

"I approached Michael in January,' said Hunter. She may have moved sooner but the Matthew Clark acquisition which was announced in September 2015 needed to be completed first.

Saunders was not necessarily looking to sell, but after initial discussions the deal made sense and was a big opportunity for the shareholders of the privately owned business.

Saunders said: "We have had a number of people talk to us over the years being a private business.  There were four things that I wanted to feel comfortable in my own mind. Firstly it had to be right for my shareholders."

Saunders was also keen to ensure that any deal would be good for his staff as well. He explained: "Secondly it has to be right for my staff, which is hugely important to me.  I wanted to make sure we were going into an environment where our staff would be nurtured and protected and encouraged to really shoot for the stars."

The impact that such a deal may have on the suppliers and customers that Saunders has worked with throughout his career was also an important consideration. Saunders said : "What will this mean for my suppliers and customers?  I spent all my working life not just developing relationships but developing a platform that I am very proud of."

Further he wanted to make sure that following any acquisition the legacy he spent a lifetime building would be protected.

"Slightly more personal perhaps is the consideration of the legacy of what my professional life has been about and know that it will be taken care of.  And I don't mean just having someone who will say that they will take care of it and then ditch it. After getting to know Diana I have faith that she really understands the nuance of this and that it is more than just the numbers. I am incredibly excited about it.  I am staying on as part of Diana's team," said Saunders.