Oct 24, 2012

Woolies wants room to move, but only for itself

Woolworths CEO Grant O'Brien insists the company has to grow more aggressively to stay ahead of overseas rivals Aldi and Costco. But the argument doesn't stack up.

Glenn Dyer — <em>Crikey</em> business and media commentator

Glenn Dyer

Crikey business and media commentator

There’s nothing like a threat of government regulation to get one of our monopolist national retailers hauling out the “national champion” and “global rivals” arguments to support a call for the right to unfettered expansion in the local market.

Plenty have done it before: BlueScope Steel in its core area (via trying on a tariff rort against “unfair” rivals); BHP Steel; Arrium (OneSteel); retailers trying to control or tax internet transactions to limit competition; farmers lobbying to impose bans on imports of grain (unsuccessful) and vegetables (there’s been wins and losses); car makers conning subsidies out of compliant governments to maintain local skills and capacity, while busily importing the models Australians want to buy, putting further pressure on locally-made models.

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