ACCC green-lights deal for 'third player' to emerge in $33b market

accc green-lights deal for 'third player' to emerge in $33b market

Veterinarians are sounding the alarm, calling on pet owners to register their dog or cat as a blood donor with supplies drying up.

Australia's competition watchdog has approved Sydney-based pet chain PetO's acquisition of more than 60 new stores and vet clinics, allowing it to emerge as a third major player in the industry.

Under the deal approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), PetO will absorb the Best Friends, Our Vet, My Pet Warehouse and Pet City brands.

That will see it expand from its current 17 stores around the Sydney region to 58 across much of the country, as well as adding 25 veterinary clinics, in a move the company says will establish it as a "clear and credible third player" in the market.

That market is currently dominated by Petbarn and Petstock, the latter of which is now controlled by Woolworths, which picked up a 55 per cent controlling stake in the company in December.

The ACCC green-lit that $438 million deal at the same time Petstock and Woolworths agreed to divest the same 41 stores and 25 vet clinics PetO has today acquired, after claims of anti-competitive behaviour when Petstock originally bought those stores (and didn't notify the ACCC of the acquisitions).

Bunnings Warehouse has also expanded into the market, launching a pet range last March, just a few months after a survey estimated Australians spent a collective $33 billion on pets in a single year.

In a statement released today, PetO said its acquisition of its new stores and clinics will see its staff size climb tenfold to 1000, and it expects revenue to triple to about $200 million next financial year.

"Australia is right now experiencing record levels of pet ownership and increased demand for pet products," PetO co-founder Nick Greenhalgh said.

"We couldn't think of a more exciting time to be expanding across the country."

He said the acquired stores will operate under their existing brands during a transitional period while they are absorbed under the PetO umbrella.

Existing staff will be retained under the acquisition.

"We respect these brands, they have worked hard to develop strong recognition and their people are experts in their field," Greenhalgh said.

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