ACT News


Small business says bunfight leaves retailers not so tip top

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Small shops across Canberra say they’re being bullied by a major bread supplier, with one terminating more than 40 years of dealing with the baker.

Ainslie IGA owner Manuel Xyrakis says Tip Top Bakeries, part of George Weston Foods Limited group of companies, is being unreasonable with trading terms and conditions.

‘‘I have kicked them out of our shop after trading with them for more than 40 years and other shops have also stopped trading with them.’’

Michael Hronopoulos of IGA Palmerston said Tip Top demanded to be his sole supplier in return for a discount, but as demand for multiple varieties grew, did not provide enough supply and left him with empty shelves.

Mr Xyrakis said Tip Top withdrew discounts of between 10 and 15 per cent on products, which made it harder for him to compete with major supermarkets.

They have also changed their distribution and payments systems to digital, which has left operators without enough physical records of how much is delivered and how much unsold bread is returned to Tip Top.


Mr Xyrakis says the company has said they are trying to save on their carbon footprint, but the end result is more paper work for shop owners.

An interim docket did not record full details of transactions.

New trading terms only allow payments to be made online, or a direct debit.

‘‘They have told me, ‘if you pay by cheque, we will send the cheque back to you’,’’ Mr Xyrakis says.

‘‘A lot of lot of shops don’t have internet access to pay. A lot of little shops are really annoyed.’’

Mr Hronopoulos said he was told that if he did not like the new trading terms he should find another supplier, which he did.

A spokeswoman for the bakeries said Tip Top was reducing paperwork, while still providing customers with a detailed breakdown of their deliveries.  The hand-held technology had been in NSW since 2004.

No longer accepting cheques reflected the recent decline in the use of cheques Australia-wide. All customers were given over three months’ notice of Tip Top’s intentions to stop accepting cheques, before the move to a more secure direct debit and online payment system.

She said Tip Top’s agreement with independent grocers in the ACT ended this month.

‘‘For Tip Top to remain commercially viable, it could not extend those benefits any further. These customers continue to receive a discount in line with the Tip Top standard, as well as significant promotional support, enabling all customers to remain competitive in the marketplace.

‘‘Tip Top’s Canberra bakery was closed in early 2009. However, Canberra continues to receive fresh bread deliveries daily from our Chullora bakery.’’

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