Liquor sale tactics net $7m fine
RETAILER Woolworths Ltd has been slapped with a $7 million fine after engaging in anticompetitive tactics relating to its liquor business.
Justice Allsop of the Federal Court found that Woolworths had entered into four anticompetitive agreements with liquor licence applicants with the specific purpose of lessening competition.
The action was brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in June 2003 against Woolworths and Coles Group subsidiary Liquorland for entering into anticompetitive agreements.
Liquorland admitted it had entered into illegal agreements and was fined $4.75 million in May 2005, while the case against Woolworths continued.
Justice Allsop said Woolworths’ purpose for entering into the agreements was aimed at preventing the entry of new competitors into local retail packaged takeaway liquor markets so as to protect Woolworths’ liquor business.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel welcomed the penalty imposed on Woolworths.
‘‘Whilst it is normal business practice for companies to seek to defend their sales from their competitors, companies must ensure that they seek to protect their sales by legal means,’’ he said.