Woolworths looks to learn from EziBuy

EziBuy, the retailer founded in Palmerston North in 1978, has been sold for $350 million to Australia's Woolworths, which runs Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand.

In 2007 founders Peter and Gerard Gillespie kept a majority stake when Australian private equity company Catalyst Investment Managers acquired 43.5 percent and New Zealand private equity company Direct Capital exited.

Then the business had turnover in excess of $170 million and employed more than 800 staff. Now it has sales of more than $200 million and 500 employees, according to Woolworths.

There was speculation of sale in 2012 when a price of A$300 million was tipped but did not eventuate.

Woolworths said it will invest in the business but did not give details.

Woolworths owns Countdown supermarkets and competes in the supermarket sector against Foodstuffs.

"The combination of our retail network, EziBuy's direct selling expertise and our respective loyal customer bases will provide a unique competitive advantage," Penny Winn, director of group retail services for Woolworths said.

Woolworths wants to learn from EziBuy's direct-to-customer logistics operation in Palmerston North and apply it across its business.

The transaction is subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office.

Currently 68 percent of EziBuy's sales are in Australia.

EziBuy expanded into Australia in 1992. In February 2002 it secured a database from Coles Myer.

It sells core fashion and homeware collections via catalogues and websites and has retail stores in Australia and New Zealand.