Retailers not all in cahoots

Your article, "Everybody's talking" of May 14 - while topical and necessary to stimulate debate around the current food crisis - in our view seriously misses the mark.

Your article, "Everybody's talking" of May 14 - while topical and necessary to stimulate debate around the current food crisis - in our view seriously misses the mark.

Jessie Duarte's remarks that it is "highly unlikely that cartels don't exist among food retailers", and that "99 percent of the retailers have a relationship with each other", were not informed by any empirical fact, nor was any substantiation offered for this startling claim.

Pick 'n Pay has never colluded with anyone to fix prices. In fact, fighting collusion is one of the cornerstones of our ethos.

We relish the intense competitiveness of the food retail market and come to work every day to beat our rivals on both price and offering.

We conduct monthly independent third-party verification of 1000 grocery items to check our competitiveness, and we have substantively shown that over a year our hypermarkets and supermarkets are the cheapest across this basket of 1000 goods.

But to remain competitive our net margin - the amount we actually keep from the retail price - is razor-thin at under two percent.

We have always sold basic foods such as bread or milk at cost price, but we recently decided to extend this to four basic food items per month.

Nick Badminton,

CEO Pick 'n Pay, Cape Town

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