Coles will refund more than $12 million to around 200 suppliers

Getty/ Ian Waldi

Supermarket giant Coles is handing back $12 million to around 200 small suppliers as part of a resolution process.

Independent arbiter and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett said in addition to the refund, suppliers will be allowed to exit Coles’ Active Retail Collaboration (ARC) program without penalty or have their ARC contribution rebates reviewed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims said the arbitration process, conducted by Kennett, has been timely and effective.

“The process will also deliver flow on effects for suppliers more broadly as a result of changes Mr Kennett says Coles has begun to implement that affect the way it deals with its suppliers,” he said.

The refunds stemmed from proceedings initiated by the ACCC against Coles in 2014, where the Federal Court ruled that Coles had engaged in unconscionable conduct in 2011 in its dealings with certain suppliers.

Coles was penalised $10 million by the court.

In April this year, Coles was fined $2.5 million for making false or misleading representations after Kennett had complained earlier on that bread sold as “baked today” was actually frozen and imported from Ireland.

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