Supermarket chain Woolworths has secured approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to move ahead with the acquisition of a controlling stake in speciality pet retailer Petstock.

The deal was initially announced in December 2022 and will see Woolworths buying a 55% stake in Petstock.

In reviewing the deal, the ACCC raised concerns over Petstock’s previously completed acquisitions between 2017 and 2022.

During this period, the pet retailer purchased other speciality pet retailers, including Best Friends Pets and Pet City, without notifying the regulator of the acquisitions.

In response to the ACCC’s’ concern, the two retailers offered to provide court-enforceable undertakings.

Petstock also agreed to divest a package of sites and assets, including 41 retail stores.

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The ACCC has accepted the undertakings and will not oppose the proposed acquisition.

Woolworths is unlikely to use its position in the speciality pet industry in an anti-competitive way.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb stated: “After extensive consultation with market participants and a comprehensive review of the parties’ internal documents, data and research, we consider Woolworths’ proposed acquisition of a 55% interest in Petstock is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.

“Market feedback indicated that speciality pet retail and grocery are distinct channels in the pet industry, and speciality pet retail stores have a very different product and service offering to supermarkets and discount department stores.”