Loblaw Companies Ltd. has recently admitted to taking part in an industry-wide bread price-fixing scheme for 14 years, between 2001 and 2015.
While Loblaw and George Weston, parent companies of Loblaws and Weston Bakeries, admit to participating in the scheme, they will reportedly receive immunity in exchange for their co-operation with the Canadian Competition Bureau's investigation on the matter.
Galen G. Weston, chairman and chief executive office of both Loblaw and George Weston, said in a statement, "This sort of behaviour is wrong and has no place in our business or Canada's grocery industry."
While Loblaw has claimed that the price-fixing scheme is industry-wide, other major grocers such as Walmart, Metro and Sobeys are not corroborating their statement. Metro has launched an internal investigation on the matter, but has "found no evidence" of any violations, while Sobeys Inc. has stated that it "does not believe that it or any of its employees have violated the Competition Act," and "any assertion of an industry-wide price-fixing arrangement has not been proven." All 3 grocers will however, cooperate with the investigation.
While the investigation into price-fixing is still ongoing, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has already taken steps to improve their internal operations. Earlier this year, the company established an independent compliance officer and provided compliance training and re-certification to select personnel and managers. Loblaw has also stated that employees responsible for their role in the price-fixing are no longer employed with the company.
In addition to changes made to internal operations, as "goodwill gesture", the grocer will be offering a $25.00 gift card to customers who may have purchased bread from one of their stores over the past few years and had been impacted by the price-fixing.
"The gift card is a direct acknowledgment of that to our customers. We hope that they’ll see it as a meaningful amount that demonstrates our commitment to keeping their trust and confidence," Weston said in a statement made late on Tuesday.
How to Get Your $25.00 Gift Card
(01/08/18 Edit:)Registration for the $25.00 gift cards is now open. Customers can visit LoblawCard.ca and enter their personal information to receive a gift card in the mail.
Before you sign up, visit this page to learn more about the gift card offer.
Loblaw expects that this gesture could cost them as much as $150 million with an expected 3 to 6 million people estimated to claim the gift cards.