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Bunnings, a Hardware Retailer, Refutes Claims of Monopoly and Unfair Treatment of Suppliers

Hardware retail giant Bunnings has addressed concerns regarding its market dominance, stating that it only holds a quarter of Australia’s garden plant market. This clarification comes after farmer groups claimed that Bunnings monopolized the sector with around 70 percent market share.

Allegations arose that Bunnings leveraged its market power to impose unfair agreements on growers, leading to uncertainty and losses for suppliers. However, during a recent Senate hearing, Laura Gaspert, an ethical sourcing manager at Bunnings Group, refuted claims of monopolistic behavior.

Gaspert stated, “We understand that the greenlife industry is worth around $2.9 billion (US$1.86 billion) in sales. When we compare that to our gross sales, we expect it to be 25 percent. In addition, considering our supplier segmentation, we work directly with only 220 out of 1,200 growers in Australia.”

The Committee also scrutinized Bunnings’ agreements with suppliers, with some farmers viewing them as non-binding norms. Bunnings representatives clarified that these agreements are legally enforceable contracts setting trading terms.

The agreements do not mandate specific purchase commitments from growers but provide sales data for growers to plan their production. Belinda Rakers, a category manager at Bunnings, explained, “The information provided to our suppliers helps them plan and forecast their growing.”

Bunnings faced questions about alleged fluctuations in purchasing commitments and unilateral decisions to reduce or halt purchases, to which a representative defended their approach. The Committee criticized Bunnings executives for offering opinions without concrete evidence.

In response to supplier concerns, Rakers emphasized the importance of maintaining strong relationships with producers for mutual benefit. She stated, “We rely on our suppliers’ oversupply, and weak supplier relations offer no commercial benefit. We aim to have long-term, viable supplier relationships.”

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