Federal court judge Michelle Gordon has slammed Coles’ misconduct as “serious deliberate and repeated” for misusing its bargaining power to bully suppliers. Coles will pay $11.25 million in fines and could pay in excess of double that in restitution to suppliers it threatened in a “deliberate, orchestrated and relentless” attempt to shore up its own profits.

Justice Gordon said in her ruling, “Coles demanded payments from suppliers to which it was not entitled by threatening harm to the suppliers that did not comply with the demand. Coles withheld money from suppliers it had no right to withhold. Coles’ conduct was of a kind which merits severe penalty.”

Justice Gordon took into account Coles admissions of wrongdoing and the sincere apology of managing director John Durkan.

“I want to reiterate,” said Mr Durkan, “that Coles unconditionally apologises and accepts full responsibility for its actions in these supplier dealings.

“Coles crossed the line in the supplier dealings in 2011 subject to these proceedings and regrettably treated these suppliers in a manner inconsistent with acceptable business practice. They were not treated with the transparency and respect that they should be able to expect.”

Coles has since instituted a best-practice compliance policy as it attempts to mend relationships with its suppliers.

Had it not been for their admission of guilt, apology, and vows of restitution, said Justice Gordon, the conduct of the supermarket giant would have faced penalties “at or close to the maximum the law permits.”

This ruling comes a week after the Fairfax Media released a report detailing threats by Woolworths to bully suppliers into paying for their ‘Cheap Cheap’ advertising campaign or face having their products removed from shelves.

About The Author

Someone you can depend on to respect you and care for your dog. Let me help you give your dog the life it deserves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.