Woolworths sells EziBuy for undisclosed sum to Sydney investment firm Alceon

The decision to sell EziBuy was part of a wider move at Woolworths to lift profitability.

ASX-listed supermarket chain operator Woolworths has sold New Zealand clothing and homeware retailer EziBuy for an undisclosed sum to Sydney-based investment firm Alceon Group.

Woolworths decided to quit the EziBuy in the middle of last year when it wrote off A$309 million of the business and had since sold it to Alceon. Woolworths bought EziBuy for NZ$350 million in August 2013 from founders Peter and Gerard Gillespie and Australian private equity firm Catalyst Investment Managers.

"Woolworths has undertaken a comprehensive sales process to ensure the right decision was made for EziBuy with a buyer who has indicated a desire to work with the team to continue to build the business," the Australian retailer said in a statement on its website. Alceon has "extensive experience and operations in the retail sector."

The decision to sell EziBuy was part of a wider move at Woolworths to lift profitability, including measures to lay off staff and close underperforming supermarkets.

Documents filed with the Companies Office today show Woolworths' EziBuy Holdings shareholding is now held by Alceon via a new New Zealand holding company, New EziBuy Ltd, with Alceon directors Richard Facioni and David Wilshire. The pair are also directors of ASX-listed retailer Noni B which Alceon took control of in 2014. Since then, Noni B has bought the Queenspark and Events brands, and last year bought James Packer's Pretty Girl Fashion Group for at least A$75 million.

Facioni and Wilshire are joined on the EziBuy Holdings board by Hilbertus Marinus van der Velde, replacing Woolworths company secretary Richard Dammery and chief financial officer David Marr.

Woolworths shares rose 1 percent to A$25.61, and Noni B shares last traded at A$1.655.

(BusinessDesk)