Rye Hotel: Endeavour Group’s purchase of iconic pub questioned by ACCC

Endeavour Group’s quest to buy the iconic Rye Hotel on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has stumbled due to “competition concerns”.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it’s concerned the purchase would create a takeaway alcohol monopoly in the small Victorian town.

Endeavour Group owns BWS, which has a store in Rye.

The ACCC is accepting submissions and encouraging local residents and holiday makers to complete a survey by October 6 to help it determine the fate of the deal.

The ACCC’s concerns centre around the fact that, besides the BWS, the only other bottle shop in the town is the Thirsty Camel drive-through at the Rye Hotel, which is about 900 metres from the BWS store.

In a statement the ACCC said it “is concerned that the proposed acquisition would likely substantially lessen competition in the supply of takeaway liquor in the local Rye area”.

“The BWS Rye and the Rye Hotel Thirsty Camel are the two largest liquor stores in the local area with a comparable size and product range, and are likely to be each other’s strongest competitors,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

“We are concerned about this acquisition resulting in a substantial increase in Endeavour’s market share in the local Rye area.”

“Both local residents and holiday makers in the local area around the Rye Hotel benefit from competition between liquor stores. This competition helps ensure different product ranges, promotions and service levels continue to be available,” he added.

The Rye Hotel is an icon in the area as one of the region’s largest venues.

Endeavour entered into a deal to buy it from long-time owner Peter Houghton in June.

The sale price has not been disclosed but it is believed to be as much as $50 million.

Endeavour Group is a major player in the Australian alcohol market.

Its brands include BWS, Dan Murphy’s, Jimmy Brings, Shorty’s Liquor and Langton’s and it operates over 330 licensed hotels across Australia through subsidiary, ALH Hotels.

The ACCC said it is also considering the impact of the proposed acquisition on “the competitiveness of other stores that operate under the Thirsty Camel banner and on the wholesale market for the supply of liquor”.

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