STAFF from collapsed wine giants Unwins look set for a happy new year after hearing five stores in south Buckinghamshire are to be saved by rivals Threshers.

The buy-out, concluded on Thursday, last week, could see workers at stores in Chesham, Gerrards Cross, Holmer Green, Penn and Hazlemere keep their jobs. It is estimated that all jobs from those stores will be saved. A shop typically has five or six members of staff.

Unwins stores across the country closed on Monday, last week, after the company went into administration.

Threshers said that they are looking to reopen the stores as early as possible in the new year, with discussions still underway to decide how many staff will be retained.

A spokesman said: "We have asked all store managers to come back and we are still talking about other members of staff. We hope to be able to make an announcement shortly."

However, staff at the High Wycombe Unwins branch in New Road, Cressex, and the Flackwell Heath branch in Swains Market, have been left looking for new jobs after Threshers said they would not be reopening those stores.

The wine giants already have two stores in Wycombe, one in Desborough Road, High Wycombe, and one in Market Parade, Hazlemere, and decided it would not be profitable to reopen other stores on top of these two existing sites.

The five stores in south Bucks that will be saved are among 200 bought by Threshers. The Thresher group has around 2,000 shops in the UK including the Wine Rack, Victoria Wine and Bottoms Up chains.

Retail union Usdaw, which represents many Unwins staff, welcomed the announcement. Joanne McGuinness, from Usdaw, said: "This is great news for our members and will give many of them new hope they will have a job in 2006. Threshers have rightly decided that it makes good commercial sense to take on the highly motivated and experienced Unwins staff who have performed minor miracles keeping the company alive for so long."