Woolworths Group has today announced it will scrap plans for a Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin.

Woolworths Group and Endeavour Group have been looking to open the store for more than five years. Over this time the application faced a number of issues including rejections (including by an independent Liquor Commission), appeals, opposition from community groups, changes in state legislation and most recently, legal action.

Prior to today’s announcement, Woolworths had decided to move the proposed location of the store in November 2020. Then in December 2020, the group commissioned an independent panel to review the plans.

This panel received feedback from a large number of stakeholders and yesterday completed a review of all material gathered. The Woolworths Group Board and Management was then briefed on the findings by Panel Chair, Danny Gilbert AM.

The Board supported Management’s recommendation to not proceed with the plan, putting a final end to the saga.

Reflecting on the report

Woolworths Group Chairman, Gordon Cairns said; “The Board wishes to express its appreciation for the comprehensive work of the Independent Panel. Establishing the Independent Panel, led by eminent Australian lawyer Danny Gilbert AM, reflected a desire by the Board and Management to ensure that the full breadth of community stakeholders had been consulted and that no community concerns had been overlooked before a final decision was made on the future of the project.”

Cairns continued to say that the panel report, known as the ‘Gilbert Review’, has; “Made it clear that we did not do enough in this community to live up to the best practice engagement to which we hold ourselves accountable.

“In particular, we did not do enough stakeholder engagement with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

In an ASX statement about the results of the review and the scrapping of the plans, Woolworths Group also noted the panel has made a series of recommendations on a wide range of matters both internal and external to the company. The Board has requested Management prepare a response to address such recommendations. It plans to release both the Gilbert Review and the response no later than mid-June.

“The insights and recommendations within the Gilbert Review will serve to strengthen Woolworths Group and Endeavour Group’s future stakeholder engagement,” Woolworths Group CEO, Brad Banducci added.

“More importantly, it will create a platform for working better together in our engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

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Brydie Allen

Editor of National Liquor News

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