Responses from Coles regarding the supermarket pricing inquiry were criticized as “disrespectful.”

The senator leading the inquiry into Australia’s supermarkets has criticized Coles for its “disrespectful” handling of the probe. In its latest response published last night, the supermarket giant addressed numerous queries regarding its pricing practices, including price hikes, discounts, margins, product range, and treatment of suppliers. While Coles maintained that most price increases stemmed from supplier or indirect costs, it acknowledged that some were not initiated by suppliers. It stated, “Shelf price increases that have not been supplier-initiated in the past five years are largely driven by indirect cost increases.” Coles emphasized that retailing involves various costs beyond supplier payments, citing rising expenses in energy, labor, logistics, and packaging, resulting in a $1.4 billion increase in annual operating costs over the last five financial years. Although Coles declined to disclose the percentage of price increases initiated by suppliers, it reported receiving over 3,800 supplier-driven requests from July 2022 to June 2023.

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