Franchisor seeks help as investigation finding looms

 

EMBATTLED Gold Coast food brand franchisor Retail Food Group is advertising for what must be one of the toughest gigs around in the world of corporate law.

It has an advertisement out for a new legal counsel based at the Pizza Capers owner's headquarters in Robina.

The advert states that it is a "challenging and diverse role" requiring a minimum of three years' experience, including within the commercial and franchising fields.

It comes as RFG prepares for the competition watchdog to hand down the results of a more than year-long investigation into the franchisor.

Former RFG CEO Tony Alford and Senior Executive Alicia Atkinson appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee into franchising. Picture Gary Ramage
Former RFG CEO Tony Alford and Senior Executive Alicia Atkinson appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee into franchising. Picture Gary Ramage

In March last year a joint parliamentary inquiry recommended a wide-ranging and significant overhaul of the franchise sector to address systematic abuses of the system. They resulted in franchisees lose their homes, assets and livelihoods.

RFG was the subject of one-sixth of the submissions to the inquiry, which recommended

a three-party investigation by the ACCC, Australian Tax Office and Australian Securities and Invesmtnet Commission into RFG and its current and former executives and companies and trusts they own. This was to include a long list of areas such as the Australian Consumer Law, the Franchising Code of Conduct, insider trading, short selling, market disclosure obligations, compliance with directors' duties, audit quality, valuation of assets (including goodwill), and tax avoidance.

The ACCC confirmed in March last year it had an investigation into RFG underway prior to the inquiry handing down its report.

Michel's Patisserie, Retail Food Group franchise brand. The company has faced numerous allegations of mistreatment of franchisees.
Michel's Patisserie, Retail Food Group franchise brand. The company has faced numerous allegations of mistreatment of franchisees.

An ACCC spokeswoman yesterday said it is close to finalising its investigation.

The regulator's investigation is understood to be complex, involving a large number of former RFG franchisee statements, which the ACCC has prepared for possible submission in a court case against the company.

The ACCC is said to be "getting close" to a firm decision on how to proceed with the investigation, which will only go ahead if it thinks there is a reasonable chance of success.

Originally published as Franchisor offers 'challenging' role as investigation finding looms



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