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Australia’s Woolworths to unload alcohol, gaming operations

Australia’s Woolworths to unload alcohol, gaming operations

SYDNEY: Australian retail titan Woolworths will offload its booze and gaming operations, following in the footsteps of rival Coles and after a campaign by anti-gambling groups.

The firm said it would combine its Endeavour Drinks business with the hotels and gambling-focused Australian Leisure & Hospitality Group, forming a A$10 billion (US$7 billion) unit called Endeavour Group.

The new entity will become the country’s biggest integrated drinks and hospitality business, with 1,500 BWS and Dan Murphy’s drinks outlets, and more than 300 hotels, Woolworths said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

It is looking to hive off the new group next year, it added.

The move follows a similar move by Coles this year, which saw it sell its hotel and 3,000-strong poker machine business for about A$200 million.

Woolworths chairman Gordon Cairns said in the statement: “The board believes that a merger of Endeavour Drinks and ALH followed by a separation, is in shareholders’ best interests and will benefit customers and team members of both groups.”