By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Electrical retail cooperative, Retravision Vic-Tas (RVT), has temporarily purchased five McKnights-branded stores previously owned by the Austral Group to prevent the business from being sold to a mystery buyer, while it can find a more friendly one.

A statement distributed this morning by Retravision Vic-Tas CEO, Brian Kelly, opened by saying: “RVT has been working on a change of ownership for its largest shareholder, the Austral Group.”

It continued: “Several months ago RVT became aware that the Austral Group, trading as McKnights Retravision was approached by a competitor company to purchase all five McKnights stores at Ringwood, Mentone, Taylors Lakes, Epping and Moorabbin.

“The Retravision (Vic-Tas) Ltd Board decided it was in the best interest of the group not to allow the five stores to be sold to a competitor. Deloitte, an independent accounting and business advisory firm, was engaged to carry out an extensive due diligence into the operation of the Austral group. Based on the findings and other considerations, RVT decided the best option for Retravision (Vic-Tas) Ltd was to purchase the Austral group of stores.

“The purchase does not include the Hoppers Crossing store owned and operated by Peter McKnight who will continue to be an active member of the Retravision group. John Graham and Mark Posch who are shareholders in the Austral group will continue on as employees of the new company, as will Luke Rich, in his role as Retail Operations Manager.

“Brian Kelly, Retravision (Vic-Tas) Ltd CEO said “A settlement date for the change of ownership has not been confirmed but is likely within the next 6 to 8 weeks. It is not the intent of the RVT office to become direct retail operators and we will in the future be seeking expressions of interest for the McKnights group of stores.