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Jeff Kennett joins Coles as independent arbiter

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, AC, has joined supermarket group Coles as its new independent arbiter to oversee compliance with the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.

“We’re committed to dealing fairly with our thousands of suppliers, and in cases where we haven’t been able to resolve issues internally, our suppliers know that Jeff is there as a fair, independent and confidential point of escalation who will sort things out,” Coles Group chief commercial officer Greg Davis said in a statement.

Kennett has been the grocer’s independent arbiter under its Supplier Charter since 2014. The code requires all signatories to have independent arbiters that will authorise them to enter into agreements with their suppliers to settle disputes amounting to $5 million.

“I thank Coles and the Australian Government for putting in place a non-legalistic system that Coles has had in place for a number of years now, that can quickly and confidentially deal with, and in the vast majority of cases resolve, disputes between suppliers and supermarkets,” Kennett said.

“The past five years of working with Coles has established that this process not only works, but it can lead to substantial changes in the way a supermarket deals with its suppliers. Given that so many of the suppliers to supermarkets are small in size, a commonsense approach in evaluating and resolving any dispute is to be welcomed.”

Meanwhile, discount grocer Aldi appointed Bronwyn Gallacher and Woolworths has named its new arbiter, corporate lawyer Helen McKenzie.

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