The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission says it would oppose any attempt by Woolworths to acquire Kmart and Officeworks from Coles.
While the competition watchdog says it has no problem with Woolworths taking over Officeworks, because it is not already operating a similar business, Woolworths’ submitted proposal to the commission was the acquisition of both Officeworks and one of Coles’ general merchandise chains Target or Kmart.
“Given the ACCC’s decision to oppose the proposed acquisition of Kmart, it also opposes the combined acquisition of Kmart and Officeworks,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.
He said a takeover of Kmart could reduce competition in a number of markets because its closest competitor was Woolworths’ Big W stores.
“The ACCC is particularly concerned about the effect of the proposed acquisition of Kmart in markets for the retail of basic footwear, men’s basic apparel, women’s basic apparel, children’s basic apparel, toys, books and DVDs,” Samuel said.
The ACCC’s announcement, after a long review of Woolworths’ application, would appear to clear the way for it to acquire Officeworks as an independent entity. That may be the plan Woolworths was testing in the first place.