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P.A. WELLINGTON, Tuesday. A plan for post-war reconstruction of the retail grocery trade, based on the recommendations of the New Zealand Master Grocers' Federation, is likely to be submitted to the Minister of Industries and Commerce, Mr. Sullivan, shortly. To become effective it will require a special Act. There have already been discussions between representatives of the Department of Industries and Commerce, the- Organisation for National Development, the Food Controller, the Retail Shop Assistants' Union, the Master Grocers' Federation and a district chain store representative. The largest chain store organisations were not represented.

The plan is based on rehabilitation, apparently to help establish returned grocery trade employees to set themselves up as master grocers. As far as is known, it does not suggest taking over the businesses in whole or individually of existing chain stores, but is to prevent the aggregation of grocery businesses, the exploitation of servicemen with heavy goodwill payments for existing shops and the uncontrolled opening of new shops in well-served areas. Chain store interests are apprehensive, failing some hard assurance from the Government, that the legislation may be so framed as to give unlimited power of acquisition. The plan recommended would mean the prevention of expansion. Not Consulted The managing director of the SelfHelp Co-operative, Limited, and National Distributors, Limited, Mr. Ben Sutherland, when interviewed, said it was the first he had heard lof the plan beyond rumours, to which he had previously paid no attention, believing his position would have brought him into the picture in any consultations. This had not been done. He was not against any sound move to re-estab j lish servicemen in the trade. His organisation alone had 500 men to rehabilitate. His business had to expand to give men in the forces, those drafted to essential industries and those engaged since the war a chance of full employment. There was a tendency to regard large co-operative concerns as monopolies. He was prepared to let the public be the judge in respect of his organisation.. If there were suggestions of monopolies he would point to a number of grocery chain store organisations in competition with each other, groups of shops owned by merchants and ordinary master grocers with family or outside labour. He could claim that his organisation had brought about a general reduction in retail grocery prices. It comprised five main warehouses, nine subsidiaries and nearly 200 stores. It would be an injustice if an individual like himself, who had started from nothing and built up an organisation- which benefited the community in general and his staff in particular, was to be impeded or even split up to foster some plan regarding which he had not even been asked his advice. It was not the co-operative grocery chain stores which were the monopolies. These existed in concealed forms through wholesale agencies. An attack on a chain stores organisation like his own would only be a cloak for failure to tackle the real combines.

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Bibliographic details

THE GROCERY TRADE, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945

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THE GROCERY TRADE Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945

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