George Weston Ltd. and Loblaw Companies Ltd. say they are addressing their role in an industry-wide price fixing arrangement and are taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. In a separate statement issued late on Tuesday, Metro said it continues to cooperate with authorities and has launched its own internal investigation. And according to Competition Bureau affidavits made public, Canada Bread, Walmart, Sobeys and Giant Tiger and others not named are also being investigated.
"This sort of behaviour is wrong and has no place in our business or Canada's grocery industry," says Galen G. Weston, chairman and CEO George Weston and Loblaw Companies. "This should never have happened."
George Weston and Loblaw Companies have initiated four courses of action:
- reporting the anti-competitive behaviour when they first discovered it in March 2015 and subsequently cooperating since then, noting they had to keep their cooperation confidential because of competition legislation;
- firing employees responsible for Weston Bakeries' and Loblaw's role in the price fixing arrangement;
- offering customers a $25 Loblaw Card that can be used to purchase items sold in Loblaw grocery stores across Canada starting January 8, 2018;
- enhancing their compliance programs, including becoming the first in Canada to commit to an ISO 19600 competition compliance program certification.
The companies say that as a result of their admission that they participated in the arrangement and their cooperation with the Competition Bureau's investigation, they will not face criminal charges or penalties.
In a separate statement, Metro said it had found no evidence that the company had violated the Competition Act and "we do not believe that the Bureau's investigation will have a material adverse effect on the corporation's business, results of operations or financial condition."
Metro said it has a compliance code of conduct in place for all employees and would not be issuing any further comments.