The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has raised concerns over speciality pet retailer PETstock’s previously completed acquisitions.
The concerns emerged during the Australian regulator’s review of the Woolworths Group‘s proposal to acquire a 55% interest in PETstock.
PETstock completed the acquisition of several other speciality pet retailers, including Best Friends Pets, Pet City, Best Friends Pets, Animal Tuckerbox and Pet and Aquarium Warehouse in Eltham between 2017 and 2022.
According to ACCC, the speciality pet retailer allegedly failed to notify the regulator about these deals.
Earlier this year, the regulator launched an enforcement investigation into PETstock’s acquisitions and raised concerns with four of those deals, namely Best Friends Pets, Pet City, Animal Tuckerbox and Pet and Aquarium Warehouse.
According to the regulator, these acquisitions may have violated section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act.
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ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said: “During the current Woolworths, Petstock merger review, market participants expressed concerns about the already significant consolidation that had occurred within speciality pet retail in recent years.
“Our investigation so far has identified significant concerns with these four transactions in particular because of their impact on national and state-wide chain-on-chain competition, as well as competition in multiple local areas.”
To address ACCC’s concerns, PETstock and Woolworths agreed to provide court-enforceable undertakings and advance with Woolworths’ acquisition of the pet retailer.
In addition, PETstock offered to sell 41 speciality pet retail stores, 25 co-located veterinary hospitals, four brands and two online retail stores.
Ridgeway added: “While the ACCC has decided to publicly consult on the proposed divestiture, this should not be interpreted to mean that this or any other form of remedy will ultimately be accepted.”