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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Tim Atkin MW

First Quench has withdrawn from the race to buy all or part of the Cellar 5 estate, according to CEO David Williams. At one point last month, the UK's largest off-licence chain was said to be on the verge of buying around 200 stores, but the price asked by the receivers, Grant Thornton, was excessive, Williams told Harpers. I can confirm that First Quench did have discussions with the receivers of Cellar 5 regarding some of the assets,' he said. We are happy to play a role as consolidator of the drinks retail sector, but we are not able to reach agreement on valuations. Having turned this business around over the past two years, we have not come this far only to overpay for distressed assets.' Meanwhile, Harpers understands that at least part of Cellar 5's assets are to be sold imminently. Possible purchasers include the management buy-out team, led by 59 Right Choice shops.