Pubs, liquor store and pokies giant Endeavour Group (ASX: EDV) has had a run in with the bouncer over its plans to buy the Prince Consort Hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raising concerns over the acquisition.
The regulator says the acquisition, which would include the hotel and associated bottle-o Prince Cellars operating under the Fleet Street banner, would be likely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of takeaway liquor in the area.
Endeavour already operates two liquor stores within 300 metres of Prince Cellars: BWS Valley Central and BWS Fortitude Valley. The group also operates two hotels within two kilometres of Prince Cellars, the Brunswick Hotel and Hello Gorgeous.
"We are concerned that this acquisition will remove the strongest and closest independent competitor to the two nearby Endeavour-owned BWS stores in the local area,” says ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway.
The entertainment district of Fortitude Valley is characterised by heavy pedestrian traffic and limited parking options. This acquisition will result in three Endeavour-owned liquor stores within a short walking distance of each other, with limited alternatives for pedestrians, according to the ACCC.
“Local residents and visitors to Fortitude Valley benefit from competition between liquor stores, including different product range, trading hours, pricing and promotions and store quality,” says Ridgeway.
The ACCC is also considering the impact of the proposed acquisition on the competitiveness of other stores that operate under the Fleet Street banner, the impact on the market for the wholesale supply of liquor, and the impact on the supply of hotel and hospitality products and services.
In its statement of issues, the regulator invites interested parties to submit comments and information to assist its assessment of issues.
Endeavour currently has 1,700 retail liquor stores nationwide under the BWS and Dan Murphy brands, as well as online sites Jimmy Brings and Langton’s, wineries under Paragon Wine Estates, and a corporate liquor supply business under Shorty’s Liquor.
Endeavour also manages over 330 licensed hotels across Australia, through its subsidiary, ALH Hotels.
The Endeavour business is 15 per cent owned by billionaire pubs baron Bruce Mathieson, while Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW) - which demerged the company as a standalone business in 2021 - owns more than 9 per cent of shares on issue.
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