Woolies defers Endeavour plans

Woolworths is postponing the demerger of its Endeavour liquor and hotels business after the government ordered licensed venues to close to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The supermarket giant said the separation and spin-off of Endeavour would be deferred until 2021 due to the temporary hotels closure and financial market conditions.

Woolworths was given the go-ahead to restructure the $10 billion segment in December ahead of a planned demerger and likely spin-off in late 2020. Endeavour’s Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group operates 323 hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes and sports bars.

The federal government on Monday ordered these types of venues – where people gather – to close to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, these venues may still operate bottle shops and takeaway services.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said affected staff would be redeployed if possible. Endeavour also has bottle shops such as BWS and Dan Murphy’s, which continue trading.

Woolworths said the venue closures, and changes to shopping behaviour at its supermarkets, meant it could not estimate the impact of the virus on its full year financial results. Panic buying has led to a shortage of goods on supermarket shelves around Australia. Banducci said unprecedented demand had challenged the supply chain, but there were early signs of more moderate shopping behaviour.

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