By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Clive Peeters announced this afternoon that it has acquired the seven Queensland stores from Ian Everards Betta Electrical – the backbone of the Betta Stores Retail group which represent combined annual turnover of $50 million.

“Clive Peeters Limited is pleased to report that, subject to conditions, it has agreed to acquire seven stores in Queensland which currently trade under the banner of Ian Everards Betta Electrical, and generate turnover of $50 million per annum,” Clive Peeters managing director, Greg Smith, said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange this afternoon.

The seven stores are located in Bundaberg, Mackay, Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Maroochydore, and in two Brisbane locations (Aspley and Morayfield).

Ian Murden and Everard Johnson were the architects behind the purchase of the Betta Electrical and Chandlers brands after the franchisor of the brands – Betta Stores Limited (BSL), went into administration and receivership in late 2006.

Murden and Johnson, the largest members of the former BSL organisation, along with 95 other former BSL members created Betta Stores Retail (BSR) after purchasing the Betta Electrical and Chandlers branding rights for approximately $3 million through a member buy-out on 9 November 2006 after a bidding process against the Leading Edge Group and Retravision WA.

Members of the BSR group are likely to be disappointed by the Ian Everards acquisition by Clive Peeters which will now purchase products through the competing Narta buying group, as Johnson in particular lobbied the receiver to buy the Betta Electrical and Chandlers brands to secure the future of a number of small business owners facing an uncertain future following the BSL administration and receivership.

In May this year, Johnson stepped down as chairman of BSR to spend more time with his family.

“The acquisition of these seven stores in Queensland will give Clive Peeters a strong presence in Northern Queensland, where five of the stores are located, and our geographic spread in the north of the State will become even stronger with the planned opening of a new Townsville store in May 2008.

“The two stores in Brisbane will also strengthen our market share in South East Queensland, along with a new store to be opened in Ipswich pre Christmas 2007. This acquisition and two new store openings will bring the number of our stores in Queensland to thirteen overall.”

“We will now have a very strong base in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. With six stores already operating in New South Wales we are well positioned for further growth in all four states.”

The anticipated handover date is 1 October 2007, subject to variation by the parties.

Clive Peeters shares were trading up 6.6 per cent to $2.10 in late afternoon trading.

BSR general manager, Ian Brown, issued a statement this afternoon regarding the departure of their largest member.

“After retailing under the Betta Electrical and Chandlers Brands for 20 years in central and south east Queensland, Everard Johnson and Ian Murden have accepted an offer from the Clive Peeters organisation to purchase their business,” Brown said in the statement.

“Everard and Ian have always supported the Betta Electrical and Chandlers to the maximum, and have been leaders in the electrical retail industry in their areas. Their understanding of customer service and the value of the brands played a major part in their success and the board, management, and staff of the BSR Group wish them both a long and relaxed retirement.

In the statement, Johnson commented on the strength of the Betta Electrical and Chandlers brands that has allowed them to build their business to the current level and enjoy a significant market share in the Mackay, Bundaberg, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast areas.