The wholesaling company’s proposal that it ‘would not restrict independent hardware stores from acquiring products from non-Metcash sources or show favouritism towards its own hardware stores over nearby independents,’ was accepted by the competition watchdog.
Woolworths is currently conducting a sale process for HTH and Metcash is looking to acquire the harware chain.
“The decision to not oppose this bid was finely balanced and on the ACCC has given deep consideration to,” Rod Sims, chairman, ACCC.
“We looked at the competition issues surrounding Metcash acquiring its only rival full-service wholesaler. We received significant feedback from independent retailers. The majority were supportive of the bid, but we also took on board feedback from others who expressed some genuine concerns.
“Bunnings is a large, powerful retailer that is present in most local markets, which will indirectly constrain Metcash’s wholesale operations – a factor we also took into consideration,” he said.
The ACCC said it decided to accept Metcash’s undertaking on the basis it should provide independent retailers with the ability to bypass Metcash by using buying groups or negotiating with manufacturers directly.
An independent auditor will report to the ACCC and ensure Metcash meets its obligations.
The ACCC stipulated that Metcash will be required to give retailers ‘plain-English information on its obligations.’
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