(Image: AAP/Julian Smith)

Two months ago, one of the country’s biggest retailers, Spotlight Group, was snapping up collapsed department store chain Harris Scarfe for a cool $50 million.

Now it’s saying it can’t afford to pay suppliers. 

The company, owned by Melbourne rich listers Zac Fried and Morry Fraid -- who, together with their families were worth $1.61 billion in 2018 -- is just one example of what the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says is happening across the country: big retailers using COVID-19 to squeeze suppliers by demanding heavy discounts and delaying payments.