BoozeBud calls last drinks, placed in voluntary administration

The 2020 BoozeBud founders’ decision to buy back their online beverage store from Japanese brewing giant Asahi Beverages has not gone as planned, with voluntary trustees taking control of the company on Tuesday and halting sales.

A majority of the board members had stepped down in recent months and the remaining directors of BoozeBud Holdings Ltd and Pocko Ltd (trading as BoozeBud) appointed William Buck’s Michael Brereton and Sean Wengel as voluntary trustees of the companies on May 2.

Michael Brereton, director of restructuring and insolvency at William Buck said that after an urgent review of the company’s financial position, they determined that it lacked sufficient liquidity to continue trading in the short term.

“We are therefore forced to stop taking orders through the online portal,” he said.

“We are urgently exploring a sale of the company and assets or recapitalization through a Deed of Company Arrangement.”

Brereton believes that despite the cash flow issues, BoozeBud remains a viable business with a strong customer base.

“As a dedicated online beverage platform supplying over 2,000 lines of beer, wine and spirits in Australia, BoozeBud includes a bespoke online platform and customer database. We believe there is an opportunity for a buyer to expand the business,” he said.

“BoozeBud operations have historically generated significant capital injections. Given the size of the beverage market in Australia, this presents an opportunity for further investment.”

Alex Gale, Andy Williamson, and Mark Woollcott founded BoozeBud in 2014, and in August 2018, AB InBev-owned ZX Ventures acquired it for an undisclosed sum.

Just two years later, Asahi, owner of Carlton & United Breweries, revised its e-commerce strategy which the founders bought back in December 2020. Patrick Grove’s Catcha Group financed the management buyout, as the founders stayed with the company under the new owners.

The CUB link has been central to the retailer’s success and sales increased by 500%, serving 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 approximately $80 million in revenue annually. The deal made the company Australia’s largest online pure-play alcohol retailer and talks of going public – although it never materialised.

While there is no shortage of online wine retailers, such as Vinomofo and Different Drop, as well as fast delivery in Jimmy Brings, Boozebud focused more on beer and spirits, offering delivery in all Australian capitals except Hobart and Darwin, plus the Gold Coast.

But the challengers grew amid the pandemic and lockdowns, with major retail chains such as BWS entering the fast-delivery market of late, adding to the competitive pressure.

BoozeBud joins a long list of F&B delivery companies that have failed in the wake of the pandemic.

Restaurant meal delivery company Providoor was declared bankrupt last week. Grocery delivery service Milkrun shut down in early April after operating for 19 months. Gourmet marketplace CoLab was turned over to trustees last month, and convenience food company Efoodz acquired those assets last week. Voly collapsed in November, before its assets were acquired by meat delivery service Our Cow.

The first meeting of creditors for BoozeBud will be held on May 9, and the company’s future will be decided by creditors at the second meeting.

Questions about the company can be emailed to [email protected].