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Vagabond under ‘no threat of closure’ despite appointing administrators

Published:  07 March, 2024

A spokesperson for Vagabond Wines, the popular ‘self-pour’ wine bar chain founded by Stephen Finch in 2009, has confirmed the business will continue to trade as usual despite running into financial difficulties.

This week, it emerged that Vagabond is looking to restructure the business as a way of clearing historic Covid-related debts.

The chain also suffered from the loss of its highly profitable Heathrow site, which was forced to close back in January due to the airport’s internal plans to re-configure its security.

Harpers can confirm that Finch officially left the business in December to pursue other opportunities. Vagabond is currently led by MD Matthew Fleming and chaired by Rupert Clevely, founder of Geronimo Inns and Hippo Inns.

Finch was the face of the Vagabond brand, having built a multi-faceted business that was one of the first to offer self-pour access to guests via canny use of Enomatic machines. It also operates an urban winery at its Battersea Station site.

Despite these various challenges, the spokesperson insisted the “business is trading as normal and is under no threat of closure”.

“Administrators have been appointed purely to restructure the balance sheet in order to address Covid-related debts. The loss of Heathrow, the business’s most profitable site, was the final step in having to make that decision. But management and the board are very supportive of Vagabond and want it to thrive,” they told Harpers.

The business has engaged advisory firm Quantuma to lead the restructure its sites, which now span much of London, with a branch also in Birmingham and the new South Downs English wine bar at Gatwick airport.

Now, the business is focused on “looking at what it can do to change in a way that suits the business and the industry at the moment”, the spokesperson concluded.