Coles squeeze $ 12m payback
COLES will refund more than $ 12 million to small suppliers, on top of a $ 10 million courtordered penalty for illegally squeezing them for funds.
Independent arbiter Jeff Kennett said the supermarket chain’s actions in implementing its Active Retail Collaboration supply chain program in 2011 and demanding certain payments were, in some cases, unacceptable.
“As can be seen from my decision … Coles had in 2011 clearly engaged in some behaviour that I found to be unacceptable,” Mr Kennett said, before conceding that Coles had already made substantial improvements in the way it deals with suppliers.
Mr Kennett ordered Coles to refund more than $ 12 million to “tier three” suppliers, and a further $ 324,000 to suppliers involved in a second proceeding, at which Coles admitted unconscionable conduct in relation to “profit gap” and waste claims and penalties it charged for late delivery in 2011. Coles was fined $ 10 million in December.