BP plans to enter into an ongoing partnership with Woolworths in relation to convenience stores at service stations, the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program and the Woolworths shopper docket discount scheme. This partnership is related to BP's proposed acquisition of Woolworths' network of service stations - which is currently being reviewed separately by the ACCC.
BP, BP resellers (independent dealers, distributors, or other site operators that re-sell fuel under the BP brand) and Woolworths (the Applicants) seek authorisation for conduct that preserves the availability of the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program and Woolworths shopper docket discount scheme at the Woolworths sites to be acquired by BP, and extends those offers to certain BP and BP reseller sites.
The Applicants seek authorisation to implement BP's and BP Resellers' participation in the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program and Woolworths shopper docket discount scheme, including:
* arrangements relating to the fuel discounts and other benefits to be provided to consumers under the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program and Woolworths shopper docket discount scheme;
* BP and BP resellers supplying benefits to consumers on the condition that they acquire loyalty program services from Woolworths, and/or goods or services from Woolworths Group retail outlets or other nominated retailers; and
* a requirement that BP resellers that participate in the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program and/or Woolworths shopper docket scheme do so on the condition that they do not participate in a competing loyalty program or shopper docket discount scheme (as relevant).
In the event that BP does not take possession of some Woolworths sites immediately, the Applicants have sought authorisation for arrangements between BP and Woolworths in relation to fuel discounts and other benefits to be provided to consumers, exclusivity obligations, and fuel price competitiveness requirements that may raise potential cartel conduct and exclusionary provision concerns.
On 29 August 2017 the ACCC released a draft determination proposing to grant conditional authorisation in relation to 'transitional arrangements' for a period of 12 months, and to otherwise grant conditional authorisation in respect of the proposed conduct for a period of ten years.
The ACCC proposes to grant authorisation subject to a condition that Woolworths and BP offer and comply with a section 87B undertaking acceptable to the ACCC which caps Woolworths' shopper docket and Woolworths Rewards loyalty program fuel discount offers to 4 cents per litre in total.
The ACCC expects submissions from the Applicants in response to the draft determination by 30 October. Interested parties will then be invited to make submissions in response to information and submissions by the Applicants by 8 November 2017.
The ACCC will issue its final determination by 15 December 2017.