By Clyde Mooney
Hotel industry sources have verified reports that Metcash is looking to acquire pubs to complement its liquor supply business.
In a similar model to that of its independently-operated grocery stores, Metcash is believed to favour a partnership arrangement on the venues under which it would acquire a share of the leasehold.
The collateral bonus of the partnerships would be the ongoing supply of liquor, through the company's wholesaler ALM, which is one of the largest liquor suppliers in the country.
The development comes following recent high profile sales of venues that changed hands for yields – for the first time in six years – below 10 per cent.
The Woolworths majority-owned Australian Leisure & Hospitality (ALH), Goldman Sachs, Wesfarmers and John Singleton's Riversdale Group have all made significant pub acquisitions in recent months – further indicating renewed confidence in the sector.
Analysts say the market's current standing is a repeat of the situation in 2004/5, where enough well-funded groups were buying to create an imbalance in supply and demand for profitable assets.
An industry source confirmed to TheShout that "there is plenty of truth to the rumours that Metcash are on the pub acquisition trail".
He suggested the foray into pubs is a bid by Metcash to take on Coles and Woolworths at their own game.
Metcash spokesman Stephen Woodhill told TheShout the company "doesn't comment on rumour or speculation".
"We're a publicly listed company – if something happens, we'll make an announcement," he said.
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