Foodstuffs acquires The Mill liquor stores from Asahi

The supermarket giant will add 21 stores to its Liquorland chain.

Japanese-owned Independent Liquor is getting out of liquor retailing just two-and-a-half years after buying The Mill chain of budget stores.

Supermarket giant Foodstuffs has confirmed it is buying The Mill stores and will add these to the Liquorland chain, itself originally owned by DB Breweries.

At the time of its acquisition, Independent said it paid $18.2 million for the then 35-strong chain to prevent a possible purchase by a rival, presumed to be Lion, which controls the Liquor King and Super Liquor stores.

The Mill, launched in New Plymouth, was a key outlet for Independent’s range of beer, spirits and other alcoholic beverages.

Foodstuffs managing director Steve Anderson says it has signed the sale and purchase agreement to acquire 21 stores from The Mill Retail Holdings.

“There are a number of conditions still to be met as part of the due diligence process before the sale can be finalised, and once these conditions have been satisfied we will be in a position to provide more information,” he says in a statement.

“In the meantime, I can confirm that no store staff have been ‘laid off.’ As part of the sale and purchase process store staff will be offered contracts of employment to Foodstuffs Liquor New Zealand Limited (FSLNZ), which owns Liquorland – the business is simply working through this process.”

Foodstuffs is already the biggest seller of beer and wine in the country and the liquor stores enable it to sell spirits and RTDs as well.

Japan’s Asahi bought the Michael-Erceg-founded Independent Liquor business for $1.5 billion in 2011 and was later awarded $220 million in a court settlement with previous owners, Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital, over the company’s valuation.

BusinessDesk reports:
Independent has transformed The Mill from a discount liquor group to a mainstream retailer. Independent is selling the liquor stores to concentrate on a portfolio of  branded beverages such as Boundary Road beer and pre-mixes, including Woodstock Bourbon and Vodka Cruisers.

Independent wrote down the value of The Mill's goodwill by $6.2 million and its brands by $2 million in the 2014 financial year, leaving the unit with assets worth $15.1 million and liabilities of $9.2 million, according to financial statements lodged with the Companies Office.

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