Liquor sale tac­tics net $7m fine

Townsville Bulletin - - Weekend Extra -

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.

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