(FranchisePick.Com) According to the Bradenton Herald, the owners of the fledgling Cork & Olive franchised wine shops left stranded by their bankrupt franchisor are taking matters into their own hands.
A consortium of nine franchise owners around the Tampa Bay area are exercising their trademark rights to the Cork & Olive name and will continue to grow the brand. The abandoned franchisees have reportedly formed a wine-buying cooperative they believe will enable them to maintain their moderately priced wines that average $13 to $16 a bottle.
According to the Sarasota franchise managing partner Rick Munroe, four Orlando-area Cork & Olive franchisees plan to open stores. He anticipates growth from nine to 14 units within the next 12 months.
Franchisor Michael Probst had a stated goal of selling between 100 and 150 franchises by the end of 2009. On June 5, Probst unexpectedly closed the Cork & Olive franchise company’s headquarters and laid off 40 workers. Four days later, Probst filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Court records and insider sources posting on franchise website Unhappy Franchisee report that Probst owes creditors more than $2.5 million.
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