Coles refunds almost $10 million to suppliers

Coles supermarkets has refunded close to $10 million to suppliers as part of a dispute resolution process. The refunds follow a Federal Court finding in December 2014 that Coles demanded payments from suppliers to which it was not entitled by threatening harm to the suppliers that did not comply with the demand and withheld money from suppliers it had no right to.

The Federal Court ordered Coles pay combined pecuniary penalties of $10 million and costs, with Coles entering into a court enforceable undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to establish a formal process to provide options for redress for over 200 suppliers referred to in the proceedings.

Coles appointed former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett as an independent arbiter after the competition regulator took the company to court over claims of unconscionable conduct towards its suppliers.

Mr Kennett visited up to 150 suppliers across the country hearing evidence and determining whether they were entitled to a refund from Coles and recommended financial settlements as part of that process.

“They’ve paid a fine of $10 million and certainly the refunds that I have ordered are approaching that figure again,” Mr Kennett said. “I believe a great deal of goodwill come out of it for the suppliers and for Coles.”

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