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New Scottish firm plans to open 50 off licences

Published:  13 September, 2010

The new Scottish firm behind off licences Winehouse and Cellar No1 has invested £1 million to open 20 stores and plans to expand to 50 sites within two years.

BrandInvestGroup, backed by Clydesdale Bank, has opened 15 stores across Scotland since the summer and six more are scheduled to open by the end of October.

A spokesman described the outlets as the "best-performing" Scottish sites from the First Quench administration.

BrandInvestGroup was founded earlier this year by Philip Craig and George MacRitchie.

Five Winehouse stores are currently open in Kilmacolm, Helensburgh, Oban, Dunoon, Dunoon Kirn, Dunblane, Edinburgh and the five new stores will be located in Campbeltown, Kelso, Lochgilphead, Currie and Edinburgh (Elm Row).

Craig described Winehouse as a wine led mid-market specialist. He said: "The focus is on wines from small to medium size growers rather than mass market brands.

"Our approach to wine is pretty straightforward; good, interesting, award winning, quality wines. We need to stock mainstream brands that consumers are familiar with to give them comfort, but have found consumers easily switch brands when presented with alternative wines with an interesting story."

Cellar No1 stores,  mainstream off-licences, are currently open in Rothesay, Greenock, Glasgow (West Nile St) and Invergord, and the next outlet will open in Torry.

The team tried to buy 254 shops from Terra Firma in 2006, the owners of First Quench at the time. A further attempt was made to buy 196 shops from Vision Capital in summer 2009.

Craig has worked in the trade for over 30 years, performing key roles for Jim Beam and forming Maxxium Worldwide. He has also been instrumental in the acquisition of Allied Domecq and Vin & Sprit.

MacRitchie comes from a corporate banking and finance background.