Saturday 24 August 2019

Wholesaler Palmer & Harvey edges towards administration, reports say

Professional services firm PwC is said to be poised to tackle the administration process.

Palmer and Harvey logo (PandH/PA)
Palmer and Harvey logo (PandH/PA)

By Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

Around 4,000 jobs could be put at risk as Palmer & Harvey (P&H) edges towards administration following failed attempts to secure a lifeline for the troubled wholesaler, according to reports.

Professional services firm PwC is said to be poised to tackle the administration process, according to Sky News, despite P&H revealing in October that it had entered exclusive takeover talks with the Carlyle Group.

The US private equity fund was looking to snap up a controlling stake in P&H in exchange for a significant capital investment, but attempts to secure a tie-up are said to be fading.

P&H, the UK’s biggest supplier of cigarettes, employs 4,000 people and provides alcohol, groceries and frozen food to 90,000 retail accounts, including Tesco.

The privately-owned group has been working with stakeholders Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International as it searches for relief from thin profit margins and a substantial debt burden.

The move comes amid a period of consolidation within the grocery sector, with Tesco agreeing a £3.7 billion deal with food wholesaler Booker, while Nisa Retail has sealed a takeover from the Co-op.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave the Tesco-Booker deal the provisional green light earlier this month, saying the move would not lead to higher prices or hit service for shoppers.

The CMA said its in-depth investigation into the tie-up found it did not raise competition concerns despite fears raised by a raft of rival wholesalers.

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