In a significant development, the Commerce Commission has announced the appointment of Pierre van Heerden as the Grocery Commissioner, a role he will take up on 13 July 2023. This appointment has been confirmed by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, marking a strategic move towards ensuring fair competition and greater transparency within New Zealand's grocery sector.
John Small, Commerce Commission Chair, commended the appointment, stating, "Pierre brings a huge amount of experience and knowledge about the grocery sector to this role." He further adds, "He is passionate about being a champion for Kiwi consumers – I know he sees the Grocery Industry Competition Act as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to level the playing field in the grocery sector."
The Grocery Industry Competition Act designates three key entities - Foodstuffs North Island, Foodstuffs South Island, and Woolworths New Zealand as regulated grocery retailers (RGRs). The act stipulates these RGRs consider wholesale supply requests from other retailers in good faith and adhere to the Grocery Supply Code while interacting with suppliers.
Small noted the positive impact of the increased scrutiny on the $22 billion grocery sector, brought about by the Commission’s Market Study. "The RGRs have worked constructively to relinquish restrictive lease covenants that posed a considerable obstacle to other retailers developing or expanding their grocery offering to consumers."
Both Foodstuffs and Woolworths NZ have been responsive, promptly implementing the required wholesale access schemes and facilitating wholesale supply to other retailers.
Van Heerden, with his deep understanding of the grocery sector, is anticipated to spearhead robust regulation and nurture the ongoing, positive developments. Small expressed his confidence, stating, "Pierre is the right person to lead grocery regulation and build on these early, positive developments. He is passionate about delivering a long-lasting and sustainable shift to a grocery sector where New Zealanders enjoy the benefits of retailers competing hard and innovating in order to attract and retain customers."