Morrisons and forecourt retailers EG Group table rival bids for McColl’s
Rival bidders Morrisons and the EG Group are in a last gasp race to buy the convenience chain McColl’s.
Morrisons’ final last-minute offer came on Sunday and it is understood that EG Group, the petrol station empire owned by billionaire Issa brothers, has now met this bid with a revised proposal. Their final offer would take on the funding of McColl’s pension schemes.
Administrators are set to be appointed for the business which has 1,100 stores.
EG Group had been poised to buy McColl’s but Morrisons tabled its 11th-hour improved offer on Sunday. Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket chain is offering to take on all the stores and staff.
Morrisons had already agreed to take on McColl’s debts, but it is now understood to be willing to pay McColl’s lenders in full, straightaway, matching a similar pledge thought to have been made by EG Group. Morrisons is also prepared to take on McColl’s pension commitments.
It is now thought EG’s rescue deal also includes the pensions scheme – bringing the offers neck and neck.
The trustees of the McColl’s pension schemes have written to the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, urging him to do whatever he can to make sure pension scheme members are protected.
Morrisons is McColl’s key wholesale supplier. It has also formed a tie-up with the chain to convert hundreds of McColl’s shops to Morrisons Daily convenience stores. There are more than 200 now and these have been performing well.
Morrisons saw its earlier offer to take over the chain turned down on Friday. That set in motion the insolvency process, which is due to proceed in the courts.
McColl’s employs around 16,000 staff across the chain but only around 2,000 are in the two defined benefit pension schemes that are at risk.
EG Group already owns thousands of petrol stations, including forecourt shops, and other convenience stores in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia and the US – and is expected to retain McColl’s sites and staff.