Sans Drinks gets a second shot as Just Wines acquires it from administrators

- August 25, 2023 2 MIN READ
Sans Drinks founder Irene Falcone
Sans Drinks founder Irene Falcone had a good outcome from voluntary administration.
Nourished Life founder Irene Falcone’s Sans Drinks will get a second life with business being acquired from its administrators by online retailer Just Wines.

The online non-alcoholic drinks store was placed in voluntary administration in mid July, with Falcone citing a challenging and changing retail environment. The sale is a surprising turnaround for the business after administrators Andrew Spring from Jirsch Sutherland said at the time that “it is not likely that the business will be sold as a going concern”.

But the concept appealed to Just Wines founder Nitesh Bhatia, who said Sans Drinks is “an excellent addition” to their platform.

“There are great synergies between the two brands and we’re looking forward to working with Irene to take Sans Drinks to the next level,” he said.

“This is a great fit: Irene has vast experience in marketing and promotion, and Just Wines has a strong track record in administration, operations, and managing the supply chain. And as the non-alcoholic sector is a real growth area, this will enable Sans Drinks, which is already the number one retailer in this segment, to grow at a much faster pace.”

Andrew Spring said called the result “a great example of the benefit of voluntary administration (VA) as a business rescue process” to preserve value for creditors

“With Sans Drinks, the VA has resulted in the strengthening of the business through a trade sale and provided for a significantly improved outcome for all creditors, as opposed to if the business had been liquidated.”

Following the second creditors’ meeting on August 21, a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) proposal was accepted and means secured and employee creditors are likely to be paid in full, with unsecured creditors set to receive an estimated 48 cents in the $1, all in the next three months.

Falcone will have an ongoing role in the business in marketing and strategy, in addition to her “real passion” of building the Sans Drinks community.

“I’m thrilled that Sans Drinks is part of the Just Wines family and I’m looking forward to the next chapter for Sans Drinks,” she said.

Falcone sold her online beauty brand Nourished Life  in 2017 for $20 million, then returned to ecommerce in the midst of 2020’s Covid lockdowns with Sans Drinks, having stopped drinking alcohol several months earlier.

At the time, the non-alcohol substitutes category was just beginning to emerge with pioneering brands such as Lyre’s, growing rapidly but struggling to find retail distribution channels. Three years on, major supermarkets have now embraced the movement and found extensive shelf space for non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits, also introducing heavy discounting in a battle for market share.