Saturday, October 18, 2014

Australia’s small family businesses are an endangered species.

Australia, as many people have known it, is rapidly changing - not necessarily for the better.  Small family owned businesses, which we referred to as the backbone of the country, are rapidly losing this tag and its ‘backbone’ and are closing their collective doors for ever, for reasons mentioned below. If these family businesses ever needed support and patronage, it is right now. Think about what will happen when they are all gone.

Click on these links for further reading and elucidation to see what we are up against in this country. Coles, Woolies 'deliberately killing competition.
Supermarket monsters. Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination. By Malcolm Knox. 

While I was in the Stockland Shopping Centre in Cairns,
I decided to purchase some good bread from the “Bakers Delight’ bakery, but found it closed. Thinking that it had been moved to a different location in the store, I made some inquiries. To my dismay, I was told that they have closed down and left the centre. When I asked why? I was told, “They were killed by Woolworths; nobody can compete with 85 cents for a loaf of bread”. There is no privately owned baker now in Stockland, Cairns. Surely Woolworths wouldn’t make any profit on an 85 cent loaf. It is just an opposition eliminating process, and similar to what they have done to the dairy farmers with the milk. Shameful would be an understatement.

I listened to a Townsville baker on radio, who had been in his family run business for many years, and he is worried that he will not survive in this unfair competitive environment. “It costs me $1.40 to produce a loaf of bread”, he said.

What we experience in Cairns, will be experienced Australia wide. The tentacles of these corporations are far reaching and merciless. I wouldn’t buy the 85 cent loaf, and wouldn’t even take them if given to me for free. What they are doing here isn’t illegal, but morally corrupt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the wheat used for the flour was genetically modified and is imported cheaply from a foreign country – possibly China.

Coles are not any better; they get their cheap bread pre-baked from Ireland and bake it fully in store, then sell it cheaply as freshly baked bread and gullible customers fall for this trickery. In the big shopping centre of Smithfield, north of Cairns, Baker’s Delight, opposite to Woolworths has gone, but  Brumby's Bakery next to Coles is still there, and one has to wonder how long they can last.

These are the predatory practices by Australia’s supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths; deliberately killing off their smaller competitors. These two can easily be labelled as the piranhas of Australia’s business world.

The first in line for their predatory conquest in eliminating their opposition were the privately owned petrol stations.
These petrol stations are now as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth in Australia. Alan Jones gave a good example on radio on how they go about this. A Woolworths petrol station in Sydney, which was a block away from a privately owned petrol station, sold their petrol 10 cents a litre cheaper than the privately owned one. This shameless practise brought the desired result for Woolworths – their opposition had to close and, as expected, their petrol price went up.

It is manifestly obvious that they are determined to finish off all the family owned bakery businesses, plus others all across Australia. Next in their sights of eliminating their opposition would have to be the green grocers, the butchers, the newsagents, and the chemists. After they have all gone, we are at the mercy of those two Australian Supermarkets and they can charge whatever they want - they already control about 80% of our needs.

The tack Woolworths is employing in regards to eliminating the privately owned green grocers, is already under way. I got an e-mail from Woolworths (and so would thousands) “If you spend $30.00 in our fresh food (fruit and veggies) department we will give you x amounts of points.” This is opposition elimination in a surreptitious way and, again, not illegal, but morally wrong and corrupt. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that if I or anyone else spends $30.00 in their “fresh food” department, one wouldn’t need to buy anything from the privately owned green grocer in the shopping centre. Do you get the gist?

So why is our Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sitting on its hands and just watching all this happening?  Wake up Australian consumers; support our small family businesses, even if they are a bit dearer.  They are the backbone of Australia - once they are gone you’ll come to regret it.
My thought for today:

Being defeated is only a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent. Marilyn vos Savant.


Astute Housewife. said...

Good on you, Werner, for bringing this into the open. It is so sad that this is happening in our country and the ACCC are seemingly unwilling to do anything. It amazes me that people are si-lently tolerating this to happen. Yet, once Coles and Woolworths have killed off all their opposition – the ones that are silent now will be the loudest in their criticism – but then it is too late. I have thrown my Woolworths reward card in the rubbish bin a long time ago, it is not worth the drive to one of their petrol stations and get a paltry discount of a $1.50 for a tank full of fuel. And, I buy my bread from the family owned butcher and baker as long they will be trading.

June said...

Brilliant! “Piranhas of the Australian business world”. A very fitting description, Werner. said...

It is very sad Werner and good of you to bring up the subject. The need for fair play and justice is still with some of us. I am sure it is not allowed in the UK. I think they brought in a law to make a Monopoly illegal. Cheers keep up the good work. Lorraine

Betty and Matt said...

Thank you, Werner, for raising this important issue. It annoys me no end when people tell me that the reason they shop at Coles or Woolworths instead of the family butcher, baker or green grocer is because they are a bit cheaper.
Aren’t they smart enough to realise that they are only cheaper because of the presence of these family businesses in the same shopping centre? Once these family businesses have been killed off – their prices will raise and you have no opposition to go to. Think about this.

Mum said...

Excellent! Betty and Matt, you expressed it precisely as it is. If only the ignorant shoppers would get into their collective heads that with no opposition prices will go up – as sure as the sun in the morning.

Aussie Grandmother said...

A friend made me aware of your blog, which I found, including the comments, very interesting and informative. I saw no need for me to post a comment as all that was needed to be said, was said. Good work, Werner.

Ursula said...

Great article, Werner,
I agree completely. I buy from the butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer. From supermarkets I only buy what is absolutely necessary such as cooking oil, cream, toilet paper etc. It's not much as I don't eat processed food. I don't mind paying a bit more.

Ursula said...

For those who want to avoid supermarkets; have a look at (Where Your Health Matters)
They have a shop in Manunda and also do home deliveries. I've been a customer for years. They offer seasonal vegetables, fruits, meat, chicken, some dairy products etc, all local and organic.

Unknown said...

There is an Australian law in place that only qualified pharmacists are allowed to own pharmacies.. Woolworths is currently trying to change this law - Can you imagine if Woolworths began opening pharmacies all over Australia?

R. Bentley said...

Thank you Marinka, for bringing this to our attention; we should all be worried what would happen if Woolworths succeeds in changing this law. Werner’s posting described the situation superbly.