One day after he spectacularly slammed Aldi supermarkets for dominating the market and announced his own food company would be shutting down, Dick Smith has said lashed out at Aussie shoppers for choosing affordability over homegrown pride.
Appearing on Sunrise on Friday, the entrepreneur told host David Koch that Aussies who chose to buy whatever was cheapest, rather than buying local were to blame for Dick Smith Foods going under.
“I don’t really blame Aldi, they’re just extreme capitalists,” he said. “What they’ve done is worked out a way of selling products where they have lower costs.
“When we get a bit of publicity for Dick Smith foods, everyone buys our product. Then everyone just buys the cheapest product. A product from Australian farmers using Australian labour, we share the wealth better here, will never be cheap. So basically what I found out, and this is why Aldi is so successful, they know the lowest price, the more people will buy from them.”
He claimed Aldi supermarkets have around 25 per cent less staff than a typical Australian supermarket, but that they see the same turnover, and that their penchant for buying at the lowest price, and passing on the savings to customers, means brands selling Australian made products which typically cost more to produce can’t compete.
Kochie questioned whether Smith’s business model of offering cheaper foods was to blame, pointing out that Aussie brands such as South Australia’s Beerenberg are thriving despite charging premium prices. But Smith deflected and argued his company simply tried to support Australian farmers.
Despite saying he didn’t blame Aldi for his business failing, he continued to take aim at them in the interview.
“Aldi have just been voted the most trusted brand in Australia. They’re a private German company and why are they cheaper? The only way they’re cheaper is they must have less costs,” he said.
He then said Woolworths and Coles need to reduce their staffing levels dramatically and import more products from overseas if they’re going to compete. He said his company could have done that, but the idea behind the brand was to support Australian farmers.
Following his closure announcement on Thursday, Smith thanked consumers of his products for their ongoing support.
“Our suppliers are going to keep our products on the shelves as long as they can, so please look for them and try to support them. In some cases, they may have to import from overseas to compete with Aldi, but that’s the marketplace these days!”
Meanwhile, Aldi Chief Executive Tom Daunt dismissed Smith’s claims and noted the company employed more than 11,500 Aussies. Furthermore, he said Aldi supports an Australian-first buying policy and shared growth with hundreds of Australian manufacturers and thousands of staff.
“ALDI has been operating in Australia for 17 years; the business started with two stores in NSW (Bankstown and Marrickville) and has now expanded to more than 500 stores,” an Aldi spokesperson told Starts at 60. “Today, ALDI employs more than 11,500 Australians and partners with more than 1,000 Australian suppliers to deliver our range of high quality products.”