Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet

In December, Loblaw executives announced they'd become aware of a price-fixing scheme involving their company and others. From late 2001 to March 2015, bread wholesalers and major grocery chains coordinated to increase bread prices in unison, making it more difficult for working class families in Canada to get the most basic staple on their table.

Starting Monday, you can register and potentially become eligible to receive a $25 gift card from Loblaw, a measure they say they implemented in order to help rebuild trust. You should take advantage of this program, but don't trust Loblaw or other companies involved in the scheme.

In their announcement, Loblaw claimed they reported the price-fixing scheme as soon as they became aware of their role in it.

This raises a few questions: How many employees were involved? Was it the same group of employees over the 14-year period? How did they avoid getting caught for so long? Why would mid-level employees, as opposed to top executives, have any interest in the price-fixing scheme? How can we believe upper management was not aware of this arrangement, which involved coordination with other corporations?

Unfortunately, these questions may never be answered, because, according to Loblaw CEO Galen G. Weston, "As a result of the co-operation we have provided to the Competition Bureau, neither George Weston Ltd. nor Loblaw or their respective employees will face criminal charges or penalties."


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