Friday, June 5, 2009

Unprogressive Enterprises

After 20 years of delay caused by Progressive Enterprises’s endless legal wrangling, the rival supermarket chain Foodstuffs opened its Wairau Park Pak’n’Save store on 3 May. A similar though much lower-profile battle has been fought in Te Awamutu by Progressive’s subsidiary General Distributors.

Progressive had the only supermarket in town; Foodstuffs wanted to open one. Cue Progressive again trying to use the Resource Management Act to stop its competitor competing. Now, after a mere four years’ delay in court, Foodstuffs has the go ahead to open a Pak’n’Save and end Progressive’s monopoly.

As the Waikato Times points out, this battle cost the Waipa District Council $245,000 during the Environment Court stage of the battle – and the council wants its money back. It is going for costs. Good. What’s more, Waipa’s mayor has asked for the case to be sent to the Ministry for the Environment to highlight some of the shortcomings of the RMA:
Mayor Alan Livingston said the dragged-out nature of the spat between the supermarket rivals showed major flaws in the Resource Management Act.
“This just highlights the shortcomings of the act,” he said.
“It’s simply the trade competition aspect, this was a commercial decision, nothing else.”
Mr Livingston said it was in General Distributors’ interest to stall the project, because any delay would benefit the Woolworths store.
He said even if the legal costs were $1 million over four years it would still be worth the company’s time because its supermarket had a virtual monopoly in the town.
“It makes pretty good business sense.”

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