ACCC opposes Australian Leisure and Hospitality’s proposed acquisition of 5 NSW liquor stores
The Woolworths-controlled Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group’s (ALH) proposed acquisition of five takeaway packaged liquor retailers in New South Wales has been opposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC announced that it considered that the proposed acquisition would be likely to substantially lessen competition in the relevant local markets.
Woolworths Limited has a direct 75% interest in ALH.
As Australian Food News reported, Woolworths has had to address similar issues in the past.
The takeaway packaged liquor retail stores in question include the Chittaway Tavern in Chittaway Bay, on the Central Coast of NSW, the Albion Park Hotel in Albion Park, south of Woollongong, and the Ocean Beach Hotel and Umina Foodtown, both of which are located in Umina Beach, also on the Central Coast. The Ocean Beach Hotel also includes the Ocean Beach Cellars, which trades under the same liquor licence.
ACCC commissioner Dr Jill Walker said that the ACCC considered that the proposed acquisition of the five takeaway packaged liquor retailers by ALH would lead to a significant increase in concentration and loss of competitive tension between takeaway packaged liquor retailers in the Chittaway Bay, Umina Beach and Albion Park areas.
“The ACCC also concluded that the acquisitions would result in a loss of choice for customers in the relevant local markets, as the differentiated offering of the targets, including their promotional offers, would be eliminated,” Dr Walker said.
Section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 prohibits mergers and acquisitions that would have the effect, or be likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition in a market.
The basis upon which the ACCC has reached its decision will be outlined in a Public Competition Assessment, available in due course on the ACCC’s website, www.accc.gov.au, at the section of the website known as Public Competition Assessments.