By Jonathan Underhill
Foodstuffs (NZ) part of the co-operative group that makes up New Zealand's biggest supermarket operator, has agreed to buy 21 stores from Asahi Group's Mill Retail Holdings, with plans to rebrand them as part of its franchised Liquorland chain.
Foodstuffs didn't give financial details of the acquisition, saying some conditions of due diligence have still to be met before the sale can be finalised, at which point more information would be released.
"In the meantime, I can confirm that no store staff have been laid off," said Steve Anderson, Foodstuffs managing director.
"As part of the sale and purchase process store staff will be offered contracts of employment to Foodstuffs Liquor New Zealand, which owns Liquorland - the business is simply working through this process."
Asahi's Independent Liquor (NZ) put the Mill liquor stores up for sale in June, after just two years ownership, to focus on building its beverage brands business.
Since buying the retail network for $18.2 million in 2013, Papakura-based Independent has transformed it from a discount liquor group to a mainstream retailer.
Independent was 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 $6.2m and its brands by $2m in the 2014 financial year, leaving the unit with assets worth $15.1m and liabilities of $9.2 million, according to financial statements lodged with the Companies Office.