Ex-Oddbins Baile forced to close stores in Excellar chain

Former Oddbins owner Simon Baile has been forced to close a number of stores in his Excellar chain and is looking to restructure its ownership.

Baile was at the helm of Oddbins when it collapsed in March 2011 with debts of more than £20 million. He subsequently expanded Excellar to six stores.

However, last week he was forced to close his Paris outlet after 11 years and a store in East Sheen, south west London, which opened in January this year, after sales in both shops dropped due to the recession.

A store in Surbiton, Surrey, has relocated from a site next to the train station to nearby Brighton Road.

He told OLN closing Paris was “a very sad moment”, adding that East Sheen had been a “bloody disaster, I needed my head seeing to with that one”.

Responding to rumours that he was preparing to transfer ownership of Excellar to his wife, Kathryn, who is already listed as a director in accounts filed at Companies House, he confirmed he would be making some changes in 2013.

Baile said: “Excellar will still be a family-owned business, it always will be. This year has been the toughest I can remember. The Olympics was the final straw for a lot of people, the way it destroyed trade down in the south. People’s shopping habits changed and we realised they just weren’t going to change back.

“We are adapting so we have the opportunity to grow.”

He added he planned to concentrate on a retail model combining wine with deli items, which was proving a success at Surbiton’s Brighton Road store. “It’s starting to look like it’s going to be a goer.

“Lots of wine shops find they don’t get a lot of trade before 4pm. You have to do something about that. The future, for us, is the mixed format. We have wine, cheese, charcuterie and hampers and space to seat around 40 people.

“Next year we will also make changes to our Fulham and Farringdon stores. I would have loved to stay in Paris, but in the end it was just too hard. You can keep digging but then you have to stop.”

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