THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will not oppose the Endeavour Group buying the Rye Hotel, despite initial concerns that the proposed acquisition could lessen competition in the supply of takeaway liquor in the area (Competition concerns raised over Rye Hotel sale, The News 27/9/23).
The hotel includes accommodation and an adjoining independent drive-through liquor store operating under the Thirsty Camel brand. Endeavour operates BWS Rye and stores in Rosebud and Sorrento.
“The ACCC did not have any concerns in relation to accommodation, gaming or meals, given the number of competitors in the area offering these services and Endeavour’s limited presence in these local markets,” ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.
“However, we did give close consideration to whether this proposed acquisition would lead to a substantial increase in local market concentration in liquor retailing.”
In a “finely balanced assessment” the ACCC found unique circumstances meant that the transaction was unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the market even though the proposed acquisition would combine the two largest liquor stores in the area.
“The Rye Hotel drive through does not appear to strongly compete on price or range, and mostly attracts customers because of the convenience of its drive-through service,” Ridgeway said.
The ACCC considered consumers would continue to have access to different promotions, pricing, ranges and service offerings in the area, including at two Thirsty Camel branded stores, Peninsula Cellars and Tootgarook Fine Wine Cellars.
“The ACCC will continue to closely consider consolidation in local markets, particularly acquisitions that occur within a pattern of serial acquisitions,” Ridgeway said.
The ACCC also concluded that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to materially reduce the competitiveness of other stores that operated under the Thirsty Camel brand or weaken the overall strength of independent wholesalers.