By James Atkinson

Former Coles Liquor and Dan Murphy’s boss Tony Leon has confirmed he has acquired a stake in independent retailer Steve’s Liquor, but insists there is absolutely no truth behind the persistent industry speculation linking him with a deal to acquire Coles’ Vintage Cellars chain.

Leon confirmed to TheShout his acquisition of 50 per cent of Steve’s Liquor – the business otherwise owned by Steve and Glen Skelton and Shane Vella – which has five stores in Victoria and Tasmania.

“My plan is to hopefully triple the business within three to five years,” Leon said.

He said he is not sure why he his name keeps being associated with a supposed bid by a consortium – with Metcash and private equity also reportedly involved – to acquire Vintage Cellars.

“Honestly, there’s been no discussions with Coles or Wesfarmers,” Leon told TheShout

“I worked with them and I respect them, they looked after me very well.”

“I’ve said it many times, I’ll say it one more time, there is no discussion between me and anybody about Vintage Cellars,” he said.

Where there’s smoke?

While Leon has ruled himself out, industry sources have told TheShout they are absolutely convinced there is something to the Vintage Cellars sale reports, with one even going so far as to suggest the deal is set to be announced later this week. 

Others presented a starkly conflicting view; that Wesfarmers would never sell an underperforming asset such as Vintage Cellars, least of all to a rival such as Metcash.

Retail analysts have previously told TheShout it would be “crazy” for Wesfarmers to relinquish the 77-store chain. 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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