Morrisons tipped to win race to buy McColl’s and safeguard 16,000 shop jobs

Morrisons is expected to win control of collapsed retailer McColl’s after a takeover battle with EG Group.

The convenience chain, which was founded in Glasgow, fell into administration on Friday, plunging the future of its 1,100 shops and 16,000 staff into doubt.

Sky News has reported that Morrisons is set to triumph following an offer which will protect all of McColl’s workforce.

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Forecourt giant EG – whose owners also run supermarket giant Asda – had been favourites to complete a rescue deal for McColl’s over the weekend.

RS McColl: Thousands of jobs could be saved with a Morrisons buyout

However, EG and Morrisons both tabled late improved offers before the administrators’ Sunday 6pm deadline for offers.

Morrisons’ early approaches had reportedly been rejected by lenders who preferred EG’s offer instantly to repay more than £160 million in debts from McColl’s.

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However, it is understood that Morrisons’ successful move will also repay the lenders in cash.

Morrisons, EG Group and McColl’s have declined to comment.

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Trustees for the McColl’s pension schemes called on the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to do whatever he can to ensure pension scheme members are well protected.

McColl’s filed a notice to appoint administrators from PwC on Friday, with the insolvency specialists expected to be formally appointed on Monday.

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Morrisons is McColl’s wholesale supply partner and was expected immediately to terminate its deal with the convenience chain if its takeover move proved unsuccessful.

McColl’s – which operates in Scotland as RS McColl and is named after founder, former footballer Robert ‘Toffee Bob’ McColl – also runs around 250 stores under the Morrisons Daily brand.

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The deal comes less than a year after Morrisons itself was bought for £7 billion by US private equity company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).

The collapse of McColl’s has come after a financial struggle over the past two years as it witnessed soaring costs due to supply chain disruption, inflation and its large debt burden.

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In recent months some smaller, independent suppliers have refused to re-stock McColl’s stores after failing to have their bills met within an agreed timeframe.

This saw local butcheries no longer delivering sausages, black pudding and other meats to shops.