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Woolworths (88% foreign-owned) refuses to sell Australia Day products – after posting record profits during cost-of-living crisis

Supermarket giant Woolworths is facing calls for a boycott for refusing to sell Australia Day merchandise.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said Thursday consumers should shop elsewhere after Australia’s biggest chain, which is majority foreign owned, said it would not stock items for January 26 this year due to “gradual decline in demand”.

‘Until we get common sense out of a company like Woolworths, I don’t think they should be supported by the public,” Mr Dutton told 2GB.

“For Woolworths to start taking political positions to oppose Australia Day… is against the national spirit. I think most Australians just want to go to Woolies, get groceries at the cheapest possible price because most are struggling to pay the bill when they get to the checkout at the moment.”

Mr Dutton’s comments came after Advance Australia director Matt Sheahan said Woolworths was “adding insult to injury” after spending $1.55 million backing the Yes campaign during the Voice to Parliament referendum.

“When are the corporate elites who run companies like Woolies going to learn their lesson?” he asked.

On Wednesday Woolworths announced it would not be selling Australia Day merchandise, saying: “There’s been broader discussion about January 26 and what it means to different parts of the community.

“We know many people like to use this day as a time to get together and we offer a huge variety of products to help customers mark the day as they choose.”

Woolworths increased its supermarket earnings by 20% in the last financial year, with the company’s net profit rising 4.6% to $1.62 billion while Australia suffered through an ongoing cost-of-living crisis driven by high inflation, interest rates rising at a record speed, and housing and rental price increases while unprecedented levels of mass immigration keeps wages low and demand high.

The Woolworths Group was the largest Australian company by sales in 2022, and also has the highest foreign ownership at at least 88.48%, research by The Australia Institute revealed. Coles owner Wesfarmers was at least 78.63% foreign owned.

Polling conducted as part of the study found that only about 6% of Australians were aware foreign ownership in Woolworths and Coles was that high, and the majority thought the companies were more than 50% Australian-owned.

Woolworths Ipswich (Vakrieger, CC BY-SA 4.0

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