By Glenn Dyer


We all know that Woolworths and its CEO Roger Corbett believe they’re on the side of the angels and consumers – and of course the company’s shareholders. There’s also no doubt that Woolies and Roger believe what’s good for them is good for everyone else.

How else can you explain the company’s opposition to a small general store on the NSW far north coast getting a liquor licence? Here’s a report from the Grafton Examiner earlier this month.

According to the story (also covered this week by the Seven network’s Today Tonight), a chance meeting in a NSW Liquor Licensing Court in Sydney for the owners of the Palmers Island Pit store has seen Woolies launch its billion-dollar firepower against them.

Why? Well Woolies claims the Palmers Island store could very well ruin the business of its nearby BWS store. According to the story, Woolworths says its interests are likely to be “adversely affected by the granting of this application”, and “the needs of the public in the neighbourhood of the proposed premises to which the application relates can be met by facilities for the supply of liquor existing in and outside the neighbourhood of the proposed premises”.

NSW was forced to ease its liquor licensing laws two years ago after pressure from the federal government.The laws were eased to allow liquor to be sold from more outlets outside the established pubs and bottle shops.

Woolies is continuing to expand its liquor outlets in NSW, and would dearly love liquor to be available on supermarket shelves next to bread and baked beans. Corbett drove the billion dollar plus acquisition of Australian Leisure and Hospitality late last year to give Woolies more liquor outlets, as well as pubs and gaming machines.

So the man who has lifted the target for Woolies national liquor sales by a billion dollars to $3.5 billion is worried about what a small general store in a small village on the northern NSW coast will do to his company and its $17.18 billion market capitalisation. Just looking after the customers, he would say.

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