The 2020 decision by the founders of BoozeBud to buy back their online drinks retailer from Japanese brewing giant Asahi Beverages has not panned out as planned, with voluntary administrators taking control of the business on Tuesday and shutting down sales.
A majority of the board members had resigned over the recent months and the remaining directors of BoozeBud Holdings Ltd and Pocko Ltd (trading as BoozeBud) appointed Michael Brereton and Sean Wengel of William Buck as Voluntary Administrators of the companies on May 2.
Michael Brereton, director of restructuring and insolvency at William Buck said that after urgent assessment of the company’s financial position, they determined that it has insufficient cash to continue to trade in the short term.
“We have accordingly been forced to stop taking orders via the online portal,” he said.
“We are urgently exploring a sale of the business and assets or the recapitalisation by way of a Deed of Company Arrangement.”
Brereton believes that despite the cash flow issues, BoozeBud remains a viable venture with a strong customer database.
“As a dedicated online liquor platform- delivering over 2,000 lines of beer, wine and spirits within Australia, BoozeBud includes a custom-built online platform and customer data base. We believe there is opportunity for a buyer to expand the business,” he said.
“BoozeBud business has attracted significant capital injections in the past. Given the size of the liquor market in Australia, this presents an opportunity for further investment.”
Alex Gale, Andy Williamson and Mark Woollcott cofounded BoozeBud in 2014, and in August 2018, ZX Ventures, owned by AB InBev, acquired it for an undisclosed sum.
Just two years later, Asahi, which owns Carlton & United Breweries, reviewed its eCommerce strategy the founders bought it back in December 2020. Patrick Grove’s Catcha Group bankrolled the management buyout, as the founders stayed with the business under its new owners.
The CUB link has been central to the success of the retailer and revenue soared 500%, with more than 250,000 customers, during the brewer’s brief ownership.
Twelve months later BoozeBud nearly doubled in size when it acquired pioneering and profitable online bottleshop Get Wines Direct in December 2021, generating around $80 million in revenue annually. The deal made the company Australia’s largest online pure-play alcohol retailer and there was talk on an IPO – although that never materialised.
While there’s no shortage of online wine retailers, such as Vinomofo and Different Drop, as well as rapid delivery in Jimmy Brings, Boozebud was focused more on beer and spirits, offering delivery in all Australian capitals except Hobart and Darwin, plus the Gold Coast.
But the challengers grew during the pandemic and lockdowns, with major in-store retailers such as BWS moving into the rapid delivery market in recent times, adding to the competitive pressure.
BoozeBud joins a long list of F&B delivery companies that have failed post-pandemic.
Last week, restaurant meal delivery service Providoor was placed in liquidation. Grocery delivery service Milkrun shut down in early April after 19 months of operations. The gourmet food marketplace CoLab was handed over to administrators last month with ready-meal company Efoodz acquiring those assets last week. Voly collapsed November, before its assets were acquired by meat delivery service Our Cow.
The first creditor’s meeting for BoozeBud will be held on 9 May and the future of the company will be decided by creditors at the second meeting.
Enquiries about the company can be emailed to [email protected]
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