Retail duopoly is double trouble for Australia

monoploy in australia or duopoly

Wesfarmers and Woolworths together make up around 96% of Australia’s actively trading businesses. Now that’s simply bad news for Australia – for the economy, for us as the customer, and for suppliers to these two giants.

A quick look at the two businesses and their brands:

Wesfarmers

§ Retail – Coles, Bi-Lo, Liqourland, Coles express, Coles.com.au, First Choice Liquor, Vintage Cellars, Target, Target Country, K Mart, Kmart Tyre and Auto Services

§ Home Improvement – Bunnings, Bunnings Warehouse, Bunnings Trade

§ Office Supplies – Officeworks

§ Insurance – Lumley, WFi, Oamps, Crombie Lockwood

§ Resources – Urragh, Bengalla

§ Chemicals and Fertilisers – CSBP, QNP (Queensland Nitrates) and AGR (Australian Gold Reagents)

§ Gas/Energy – Kleenheat Gas, Evol LNG, Premier Power (electricity)

§ Industrial and Safety – Blackwoods, Protector Alsafe, Bullivants, Total fasteners, Coregas, Blackwoods Protector, Packaging House, Gotstock.com.au, Safety Source

§ Others, and stakes in – ModWood wood-plastic products, 50% stake each in Gresham Partners (Barminco, Silk Logistics Group and Tasmanian Walking Company) and Westpine Industries and a 24% stake in BWP warehouse retailing properties.

Woolworths

§ Retail – Woolworths Supermarkets, Woolworths Petrol, Big W, BWS, Dan Murphy’s, Wine market, Cellarmasters, Ezibuy, Countdown, Thomas Dux.

§ Home Improvement – Masters

§ Hospitality – ALH (Australia Leisure and Hospitality) group and its brands including Great Food Great Value, Live At Your Local, 28s, Function Venue Finder and Graziers beef.

§ Finance – Woolworths Money credit cards, Reloadable MasterCards and Gift cards.

§ Others – Woolworths Mobile, Langton’s

It is rather disconcerting that we’ve let our economic power rest in the hands of just two commercial businesses and in the process let small businesses die. Sad stories of farmers and suppliers being bullied and ruthlessly squeezed by the two, forcing some to shut down are only too familiar. Customers like you and me are at the receiving end too, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) statistics indicate that Australia has the highest levels of food inflation in the developed world. With the two controlling almost all of the Australian business industry it is them who largely decide what we eat, drink, wear or use, the quality of the products and services we buy, and worse – what we pay for them. A lack of competition in the market also means that wherever we spend our money it will end up in the coffers of one of the two.

Just how the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) allowed this to happen is difficult to comprehend. The lack of legislation, regulation, and political focus on the duopoly seems to have contributed to this unholy mess.

This domination of the market might have been easier to stomach if the two took sustainability a little more seriously but unfortunately it is not so – one only has to shop at K-mart, Big-W, Bunnings, Target or even look at the labels of products on the shelves of Coles and Woollies to know that most of the products across their businesses are not even made in Australia. The noise created by these giants around a few ‘made in Australia’ products drowns out the fact that most of the products are not Australian made.

The contribution of the duopoly to the community that built them is abysmal. Wesfarmers is in its centenary year, an opportunity to recognise and perhaps reward its customers who brought them this far, yet not a peep for its customers.

All isn’t lost yet as political parties like the National Party and the Green Party, and a few politicians have recognised the graveness of the situation and are pushing for reforms. As a result the market is beginning to see some changes.

More players are entering the retail field, providing better and a wider choice of products and services. Hopefully the government will step up and do the right things to encourage new entrants which will not just benefit the customer but also secure more jobs for Australians at a time when unemployment has just seen a ten year high.

We as customers have a role to play too in supporting the new entrants if we want a fair and competitive economy with personal choices about how and where we spend our hard earned money.

Article written for Australian Business Report  by Sitara

Comments

  1. Stephanie S says:

    A well written and comprehensive review of the retail duopoly in Australia.

  2. google authorship wordpress says:

    Hi there! This article could not be written any better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Thanks for
    sharing!

  3. They are taking over australia mate
    They got teh grog shops and the petrol bowsers a nd now they are goign after insurance and banking … and to top it all they are using thier $$ to hire chefs and give thier business the ethical look .. while they are pretty much runnning out every small business

    can australia stop this happening ?? i wonder

  4. gaby saliby says:

    hello , i m gaby saliby from lebanon i don’t see any careers the speak with anyone but i work in constraction wood ,carpentry i have experience in carebeans barbedos i work kitchens , door , hotellss all decoration .. and i work furniture all sopha, bedrooms thanks you!

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