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Big supermarkets 'bullying' liquor shops

Big supermarkets 'bullying' liquor shops

Fri June 15, 2012 11:09am

THE competition watchdog is worried the nation's major supermarkets are bullying suppliers and picking off small liquor and hardware stores in a move that could reduce choice for consumers.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said a number of claims brought by suppliers of bullying are being assessed to see if any action needs to be taken, the Herald Sun reported.

"We've had 40 or 50 people come forward with more or less useful information," he said.

"Some people have complained about things that aren't against the law and other people have complained about things that are worth looking into.

"We're now assessing what we've got and trying to see whether there's things that we should be taking very seriously, but it's still early days."

The ACCC's call was in response to claims suppliers were being squeezed as a result of price wars between the chains on a range of products from milk, fruit, vegetables and bread to toilet paper and washing powder.

Mr Sims also announced the ACCC would be taking a tougher approach to the major supermarket chains making "creeping acquisitions".

He said a buy-up of small-scale "mum and dad" operators could lead to "retail or indeed wholesale industry structures" competitiveness of Australian markets.

"The national chains are increasing their participation in the liquor, grocery and home improvement sectors, particularly through many small acquisitions," Mr Sims said.

"Because of these concerns, the ACCC has been paying increased attention to incremental acquisitions to identify which acquisitions require review and, of those, which raise competition concerns."

The competition watchdog is reviewing takeovers of small retailers including hardware stores in Ballarat, hotels and liquor stores in New South Wales and supermarkets in Western Australia.

He said if the supermarkets gave advanced notification for some transactions there could be a unit dedicated to assessing more quickly any competition concerns.

- with AAP

 

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