Paper info: A tale of two retailers
A tale of two retailers
Susan Carter, Patty Kamvounias andCatherine Sutton-Brady
University of Sydney
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.
In the last two years the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘the ACCC’) undertook legal proceedings against Coles and Woolworths, Australia’s largest two supermarket chains. Unlike previous legal actions which have focussed on interactions with consumers, this legal action sought to regulate interactions with small business suppliers. The ACCC argued that each supermarket chain had acted ‘unconscionably’ in their dealings with commercial suppliers. These legal actions are important because they focus on a manner of conducting business or a pattern of behaviour rather than any loss suffered by a vulnerable trader, and, they regulate the way in which a larger business behaves and seeks to utilise their advantages, which come with a strong market position. In essence, these legal actions attempt to moderate business behaviour and B2B relationships. Using the case studies of Coles and Woolworths, we explore the type of behaviour which attracts the attention of the regulator. In light of two very different outcomes of these legal proceedings, we assess their impact on B2B relationships.