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BBR confirms far reaching 'review' of troubled FMV

Published:  25 June, 2020

Berry Bros. & Rudd has confirmed that it is “reviewing” its Fields, Morris & Verdin (FMV) wholesale arm, with staff consultation ongoing, with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis almost certainly meaning that the business will not continue in its current shape or form.

FMV, which counts such high-profile estates as Viña Tondonia and Ridge in its premium portfolio, is understood to have been under pressure for some time, with a source saying yesterday (24 June) that both many accounts and many agency lines were unprofitable.

“Covid may have provided an excuse, albeit a very good excuse, to shut up shop,” Harpers was told.

In a statement today in response to that Harpers piece, BBR executive chairman Lizzy Rudd said: “I can confirm that Berry Bros. & Rudd is in the process of reviewing its wholesale operation.”

“Like many businesses, the impact of the pandemic has forced us to step back from our business and review our structure. Covid-19 has completely changed the consumer landscape. It has created a highly uncertain market, particularly within the hospitality and retail industry, and we do not know when or how it will recover or what it will look like.”

Rudd added that the size of the producer portfolio was under review, along with the amount of stock FMV is able to hold to supply the trade.

“People working within our FM&V and BB&R Partnerships teams are currently in a collective consultation process which we hope to conclude by early August. During this time there will be no changes to our structure or trade operations,” Rudd told Harpers.

FMV represents around £40m of BBR’s £188m turnover, and had furloughed a majority of staff since the on-trade shutdown, many of whom were expecting to return to work on 29 June ahead of the hospitality sector’s reopening, but with that return for many now uncertain.

It is understood that certain rival distributors had previously expressed an interest in acquiring FMV before the current crisis, but that approaches were turned down.