Speculation rife of a Woolworths play for Independent Liquor

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 7th January 2010

Rumours abound of interest from Australia’s largest supermarket operator in the nation’s market share leader in RTD (ready-to-drink) alcoholic beverages, as they look to give their private share alcohol products a boost.

Fairfax has today reported that Woolworths has been exploring the possibility of a purchase of, or strategic alliance with, Independent Liquor. The report suggested the private equity-owned group would be worth in the vicinity of $700 million (NZ$873m), just three years after being purchased by Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas for NZ$1.3 billion.

Independent Liquor, which operates in both Australia and New Zealand, distributes the Carlsberg beer brand in Australia as well as a host of spirits and RTDs such as the Vodka Cruiser and Pulse brands.

Woolworths are known to be keen to expand their private label offering in the alcohol sector after first entering with Platinum Blonde – which Independent Liquor brews – back in 2008. Last year, they showed their intentions for expansion with a 25 per cent stake in Gage Roads Brewing. The deal sees Gage contract brew 350,000 cases of beer each year for the retailer – namely the Dry Dock brand.