CEO of troubled drinks wholesaler Conviviality stands down

Conviviality, the UK’s biggest wholesaler of alcoholic drinks, has announced that CEO Diana Hunter has stepped down with immediate effect.

The announcement comes after the company issued two profit warnings last week following the discovery of a £30m tax bill.

Company shares on AIM were suspended on Wednesday following the discovery of the bill, which must be paid by the end of the month.

Earlier in the week Conviviality had slashed its profit forecast by a fifth, following an error in calculating the predictions.

Professional services network PwC has been appointed to assist discussions with HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) and key stakeholders.

The company has also cancelled its dividend payment in a bid to save £8.2m.

Conviviality said: “Whilst there can be no guarantee, the board believes this short-term funding requirement will be satisfactorily resolved.”

It said that HMRC had been “receptive to our needs” and announced it was engaging with advisors “regarding the possibility of an equity fundraise to effect a recapitalisation of the business”.

In today’s statement regarding Hunter the company said: “The board of Conviviality announces that Diana Hunter, chief executive officer of the company, is stepping down from the board of the company with immediate effect. Ms Hunter will remain with the company for a period of time in order to provide transition support. David Adams, non-executive chairman of Conviviality, is today stepping into the role of executive chairman until further notice.”

Conviviality became the UK’s largest wholesaler following the purchase of Matthew Clark in 2015 and Bibendum in 2016.

During a press conference revealing its financial results Tim Martin, chairman of Conviviality customer JD Wetherspoon, said his pub chain had a contingency plan in place, while adding “they’ve been trading with us for more than 20 years so we hope they can pull through”.

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