Coles boss slams WA retail trading rules

16/09/2010 - 11:54

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The boss of Coles has labelled retail trading hours in Western Australia a farce and questioned the need for any regulation, which include inconsistent regulations and anomalies.

Coles boss slams WA retail trading rules

The boss of Coles has labelled retail trading hours in Western Australia a farce and questioned the need for any regulation, which include inconsistent regulations and anomalies.

"Western Australia is about a decade behind the rest of the states," Coles managing director, Ian McLeod told WA Business News.

"Why does it have to be regulated at all?

"Consumers in Western Australia need to be able to shop with the same level of choice as other consumers in Australia.

"It should be down to the retailer when they want to open and it should be down to the consumer when they want to shop.

"The Australian customer needs a fair go."

Mr McLeod, in addressing a business breakfast, highlighted numerous confusing inconsistencies that he's found with the state's existing retail trading regulations.

"I think it's very confusing," he said.

"Take Victoria Park where you've got one shopping centre that can open (on Sunday) and one that can't and there's one kilometre between them - where's the logic and sense in that?

"It seems that any supermarket that doesn't begin with a 'C' or a 'W' can open.

"There doesn't appear to be a level playing field: some stores can open, some can't.

"There seems to be very little reason as to why those conditions are put in place."

During his entertaining speech, Mr McLeod highlighted that Coles' parent company, Wesfarmers had successfully saved the Coles operation having kept the company in Australian hands after purchasing the struggling business a few years ago and reaching halfway in its five-year revitalisation plan for the massive grocery and liquor store business.

He said that in the last two years the company had spent $30 million in WA alone, with another $30 million to be spent in the state in 2011.

Mr McLeod said that decades of decay and a serious lack of investment had contributed to a "doom loop" which had placed the business in a downward sprial.

But with $200 million spent on basic maintenance in a little over two years, which included $8 million on fixing or replacing trolleys "with three working wheels", and a raft of initiatives ranging from extensive marketing and pricing strategies to culture development within the organisation, Mr McLeod said there had been strong gains in comparable sales growth the last two years.

He said 80 per cent of Perth residents wanted extended weekday trading and 70 per cent were keen for extended Sunday trading.

"What we want to do is encourage greater levels of competition," he said.

"It offers more employment and offers more choice and offers greater levels of competition so why regulate at all."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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