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Hills contract hit by Woolies' hardware disaster

Business

Hills Limited’s licensing contract with Woolworths is the latest victim of the failure of the supermarket chain’s Masters Home Improvement business.

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Hills today said it had reached a mutual agreement with Woolworths to terminate the contract, which involved the licensing of Hills Home Living brands.

The contract has ended only three years into a seven-year agreement, with the Adelaide company seeking new licensing arrangements for its products.

“Woolworths will pay an amount to Hills in settlement of all rights and obligations under the licensing agreement,” Hills said in a statement today.

“While the terms of the settlement remain confidential between the parties, this has the effect of bringing forward three years’ worth of license fee income and cash receipts to Hills. Hills will record any associated increase to income and cash in its results for the first half of FY17.”

The company said while distribution of “iconic HHL brands” would continue “as usual”, it was seeking new permanent licensing arrangements for all HHL products and was “commencing discussions with interested third parties”.

Hills’ most famous product is the Hills Hoist.

Woolworths’ move into “big box” hardware with the Masters Home Improvement chain proved to be a disaster, with the venture leading to $1.9 billion of writedowns.

All of the Masters stores will be closed by mid-December. Woolworths has also signalled its intention to sell its Home Timber and Hardware stores.

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