Foodstuffs gets one up on Woolworths with Liquorland purchase

Foodstuffs NZ managing director Tony Carter says he is “pretty chuffed” with the company’s purchase of Liquorland from DB Breweries.

And so he should be.

Not only does the Liquorland purchase suit Foodstuffs’ future growth plans but it also represents another deftly aimed jab at major rival Woolworths.

It is understood that Woolworths initiated the sale process and made a strong offer for the Liquorland owner-operator, franchisee model business.

However, DB is said to have been less interested in the money side of the equation and more concerned in who it could work with in the future.

It is understood DB made it clear that consideration of future interests for franchisees and staff, as well as the continuation of the brand as a whole, formed a major part of the decision of who to sell to.

DB officially confirmed that it was looking to continue its relationship with the franchise, retaining marketing and supply agreements.

The terms of the sale have not been disclosed, and according to all parties, will not be. Given the unusual nature of the transaction, even placing a dollar value on the "sale" is difficult.

Liquorland would’ve been a great fit for Woolworths to try to replicate its Australian liquor retail business Dan Murphy’s and its business model here, as well as giving the company an invaluable land asset base – Progressive’s Achilles heel in New Zealand.

Mr Carter says Foodstuffs has no desire to change the way Liquorland operates, although he admits there are plans to expand.

The Liquorland brand will be key for Foodstuffs – which, like Woolworths in New Zealand, has been keen to get in on the lucrative spirits and RTDs market.

West Auckland is also an untapped market, as it retains a ban on wine and beer sales in the region’s supermarkets.

Mr Carter made no comment about the transformation of Duffy and Finns and Henry’s locations in Liquorland stores, or whether that brand would be continued.

He would also not be drawn on whether there are any moves to feature Liquorland stores on supermarket premises.

The DB sale may also see brewer rival Lion Nathan look to follow suit and sell its Super Liquor and Liquor King stores.

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