WOOLWORTHS will take over two Wagga pubs from early next year as part of a statewide move to make it the largest pub operator in NSW. The management of Tolland Hotel and Farmer's Home Hotel will be taken over by Woolworths' hospitality arm, Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH), which is currently snapping up 31 new venues. The move into the Wagga pub market is a first for Woolworths, and adds competition to the few locally owned venues left in the city. Publicans at the locally owned-and-run Duke of Kent Hotel, The Riverina and William Farrer Hotel all yesterday acknowledged Woolworths' expansion was simply the nature of the business. "They will bring a different level of competition into town, and it will definitely be a strong level of competition because they have a strong buying power the local guys don't have," said Australian Hotels Association sub-branch president David Barnhill. Both the Tolland Hotel and Farmer's Home Hotel are currently under the umbrella of the Laundy Hotel Group, which is entering into a $500 million joint venture with Woolworths. "The community supports local businesses and in turn the businesses support the community. I hope Woolworths supports the community," said The Riverina publican Chris Roche. The move will cement Woolworths as the biggest pokies operator in the country and build its NSW pub portfolio to 58. The deals still require the approval of the competition watchdog, the ACCC, and it is expected the supermarket giant will take control of the Wagga pubs early next year.