Bid leaves liquor stores in limbo

TWENTY WA liquor stores trading under the Porters banner will have to wait at least two weeks before the future of their brand is known following Coles-Myer’s bid for its owner.

Coles has unveiled a $54 million offer for Australian Liquor Group which bought the Porters name just a few weeks ago.

But it is not known whether Coles intends to retain the name which would see it providing promotions for more than 100 independent liquor stores, including 20 in WA.

If successful the bid will give Coles ownership of 97 of WA’s 469 licensed liquor stores, well ahead of Woolworths which will have 45 outlets when it completes its purchase of Liberty Liquors for a reputed $60 million.

ALG chief executive Mal Higgs, who led the Porters group before it was bought by ALG, said it was too early to know what was going to happen to the brand and discussions would take at least two weeks.

“Our concern is that members (independent liquor store owners), who are free to leave after 28 days notice, may be concerned about their future under a Coles (Liquorland) banner,” Mr Higgs said.

“We are discussing with Coles-Myer to see what options there are rather than have that happen.” There are a number of scenarios.”

Mr Higgs said the original sale of Porters to ALG was supposed to strengthen ALG and make it less vulnerable to takeover, but Coles came in with bid almost twice the market price of just a few weeks ago.

In other liquor industry news, it is understood Woolworths is negotiating to buy the Mt Pleasant Western Cellars, while Peter Jefferies is taking over Manning Fine Wines after selling his Bunbury-based Con’s Liquor into the ALG float last year.


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