7-Eleven has been granted interim approval to work with franchisees to reduce trading hours or close stores amid a drop in customer demand due to COVID-19.
The ACCC approved the move last week, as 7-Eleven own and operating stores in competition with its franchisees in some areas.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said the move was to allow the network and individual stores to stay viable, without the risk of breaching competition laws.
“Importantly, franchisees are not required to temporarily close or reduce their store hours if they do not wish to. Our decision to grant interim authorisation does not force franchisees to agree to the terms offered by 7-Eleven,” Mr Sims said.
7-Eleven will offer franchisees who choose to temporarily shut an ex-gratia payment to cover operating costs, while for those who reduce hours, the convenience company will pro-rata the minimum guaranteed income they recieve to reflect the reduction.
Mr Sims said the watchdog would closely monitor the arrangement and warned the authorisation could be revoked if needed. Final approval is conditional on 7-Eleven notifying the ACCC of any arrangements reached with franchisees.
Franchisees have also been encouraged to seek independent legal and financial advice before making their decision.