Woolworths has bought a majority stake in a business which delivers booze to Sydney corporate offices

AFR

Woolworths Group has bought a majority stake in corporate drinks delivery business Shorty’s Liquor, which will sit alongside other alcohol-related ventures in the soon-to-be demerged Endeavour Drinks.

The newly-acquired business – Woolworths would not say how much it paid for the holding – offers online ordering and delivery to corporate offices in Sydney. But it has plans to expand to other state and territory capitals over the coming years.

“We’ll benefit greatly from tapping into Endeavour’s national supply chain, while also retaining our agility as a distinct business within the group,” said Shorty’s Liquor managing director and founder David Short.

The deal adds to the war chest of liquor brands within the broader Endeavour Drinks division, which will soon be merged with pubs and pokies business ALH Group.

Known as Endeavour Group, the new company would allow Woolworths to focus more closely on its core supermarket and growth businesses going forward. Investors approved the restructure at Woolworths’ annual shareholder meeting in December, though the spin-off is still subject to another vote.

The merger between Endeavour Drinks and ALH Group is also yet to take place, with Woolworths now expecting to finalise the move in February.

Nevertheless, it is arguably the biggest shake-up in the company’s 94-year history and chief executive Brad Banducci said it was about adapting to the new age of retail.

“Somewhere between one third and one half of the growth will come from outside that core supermarket business,” Mr Banducci said when the decision was announced.

“Either through Metro-style convenience stores, online – whether it’s direct to consumer or business to business – and through solutions to other businesses.”

Woolworths had also been under pressure to distance itself from ALH Group, which is Australia’s largest poker machine operator and had become a lightning rod for regulatory scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Mr Short, who will remain in his role at Shorty’s Drinks, was excited about the possibilities for his company under the new partnership.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Endeavour Drinks to help fuel our next wave of growth,” he said.

Endeavour Drinks managing director Steve Donohue was also positive.

“Developing new growth avenues is a key priority for Endeavour Drinks as we work to connect everyone with a drinks experience they’ll love,” Mr Donohue said.

“We have a proud track record partnering with innovative players in drinks having successfully integrated the likes of Dan Murphy’s, Cellarmasters and Jimmy Brings into our portfolio.”

Endeavour also owns the BWS chain of bottle shops.

Of the current crop, Shorty’s Liquor bears the most similarities with Jimmy Brings. The later, which was acquired in late 2017, is also a drink delivery platform; however, it is more focused on the residential market than business-to-business selling.

“Shorty’s has developed an exciting proposition over the years, and we’re pleased to be partnering with them to build a bigger presence in the business to business segment,” Mr Donohue said.

“We look forward to partnering with David and his team to offer even better value and more convenience to more corporate customers across Australia.”

This story originally appeared in the Australian Financial Review. Read the original story here.

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