Peter Bunn was an independent operator in
the ACT with a mini-chain of six Tempo stores, supplied by wholesaler Metcash.
Bunn became dissatisfied with Metcash, believing Metcash failed to honour its
supply agreement, particularly in regard to promised rebates and discounts.

Bunn tried to go elsewhere, but suddenly
found life very difficult on a number of fronts. Bunn’s company, Chadmar, is
now in liquidation with the six Tempo stores sold off. Court proceedings are
underway with Litigation Lending Services funding Bunn’s case seeking several
million dollars from Metcash.

Bunn is fighting hard – and he’s getting
support from Metcash suppliers and customers. He has a website, under
construction that is already receiving plenty of hits and he has published
several open letters to Metcash.

Channel 9’s Business Sunday late last year
shot a story on Bunn’s fight. I don’t know what claims were made in the story,
but when the program approached Metcash for comment Nine suddenly found itself
in the South Australian Supreme Court where Metcash successfully obtained an
injunction preventing the broadcast of the story. There’s been a change of
management at Business Sunday since then, but so far the injunction remains and
the program has not bothered to report on the injunction.

Some suppliers feel they get worse deals
from Metcash than the Big Two – at least with Coles and Woolies, after having their
gonads squeezed, the supplier gets some guaranteed shelf space.

With the independent sector overall losing
market share to Coles and Woolworths, Metcash is proving as ruthless as anyone
in its attempt to maintain profit growth.

As already mentioned, so far the consumer
has benefited from the way Coles Myer, Woolworths and Metcash do business.
Suppliers and independent retailers have suffered, but the ACCC doesn’t care
about that. Whether the consumer will benefit in the long run if the present
trends continue, well, that’s one for the text books of the future to report
on.

Peter Fray

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