Coles restructures supplier relations

ColesColes managing director John Durkan has finalised the development of its new business structure, which will radically change the way the supermarket giant interacts with its suppliers.

Five new business units have been created: grocery; bakery; meat, deli and seafood; fresh produce and non-food grocery, with suppliers notified last week of the changes, The Australian has reported this morning.

“As you would be aware, 18 months ago we started the journey of creating truly end-to-end merchandise business units within Coles. Our aim was to become more customer-centric and make it easier for suppliers such as yourself to work with us,’’ Durkan told suppliers.

The units, which will report to Durkan, will have responsibility for a much wider scope of activities than the previous merchandise directors, streamlining supplier communications by providing a clear category-specific avenue for negotiation.

Former marketing and property director George Dymond is heading up grocery; bakery will be led by Jon Haggett; meat, deli and seafood by Alex Freudmann; fresh by Brad Gorman; and non-grocery by Charlotte Rhodes.

Durkan has also promoted finance and merchandise director Chris Nicholas to chief financial officer, a role that will include the assessment of business development opportunities that Durkan said could include acquisitions.

Coles move to introduce a more collaborative framework for suppliers comes amid similar investment from its mainstay competitor, Woolworths, in strengthening relationships with its FMCG partners – a signal that the industry is turning a corner after several years of strained relations following court disputes.

The business is also looking to poise itself to maximise growth opportunities after losing momentum in the grocery market to Woolworths’ faster-than-expected turnaround over the last twelve months.


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