ACCC will not investigate BoozeBud purchase

06 August, 2018 by Andy Young

TheShout can reveal that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will not be investigating AB InBev’s purchase of national online retailer, BoozeBud.

It was revealed last week that ZX Ventures, a company owned by AB InBev, was planning to buy BoozeBud, with immediate plans to roll-out changes and improvements to the platform.

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TheShout spoke to a number of retailers who expressed concerns about whether this will see BoozeBud able to offer AB InBev at a price no-one else could match, that they will effectively set the market price for AB InBev products and that they will offer BoozeBud products at a lower price than to any other retailer.

TheShout put these, and other concerns regarding a multi-national producer also operating in the retail space to the ACCC and asked whether it would be investigating the deal.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “The ACCC considered this transaction and decided that a public review would not be required.”

One retailer, who did not wish to be named told TheShout that the deal was “atrocious” while many others highlighted what has happened in the past when producers have moved into the retail space. In 2014 a number of retailers delisted Moët Hennessy products after the company launched a website selling its full range directly to consumers.

While none of the retailers that TheShout spoke to would be drawn on whether they will delist products, they all said it was a ‘wait-and-see’ period, with hopes that there would be some clarification on the issue from AB InBev regarding the ‘independence’ of BoozeBud.

All the national retailers that TheShout contacted on the purchase said that while they are happy to talk about their own business, they would not comment on someone else’s operations.

It was a similar story from many producers, who said they were currently thinking about what their next steps would be as a result of the purchase.

Guy Greenstone, co-founder of Stomping Ground Brewery, told TheShout: “We’re just digesting the news now. There’s a lot to consider. We’ve had a short but great relationship with BoozeBud so far but without question we will need to consider all of the implications of the acquisition by AB InBev before deciding what we do next.”

The Australian Liquor Stores Association’s new CEO, Julie Ryan, said that with the retail landscape changing, there were a number of issues that the Association’s board and members would be discussing.

“The trend of continued growth in online and DTC platforms, and the changing nature of the stakeholders invested in those platforms, is one of the current issues being considered by the ALSA board in relation to relevance to its members,” Ryan told TheShout.

When TheShout spoke to BoozeBud last week about the deal, co-founder Andy Williamson said that the retailer will “absolutely not” be focusing on AB InBev brands as a result of this deal, adding: “We already work with 400 suppliers in the country. We work with every major brand, we work with the majority of craft brands and boutique wineries right around the country and that has always been the mission to build an online marketplace that will allow any and every supplier to connect and engage with their customers.

“That’s what this is all about, it’s going to be a continuation of that mission, albeit with the resources, the backing and the global expertise to ensure that we build the leading online player for the benefit of every supplier in the market.”

With independence being something held dear by many craft brewers in Australia, Williamson had this to say about BoozeBud’s link with AB InBev.

“From our perspective nothing changes. We’ve always been about a business that represents every supplier and this should be a good thing for suppliers. The resources and the capital that we now have will allow us to build a much bigger business and that is going to allow every supplier to put more of their products in the hands of more people around the country.”