19 July 2024
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Lindsay Fox has stuck it to the banks and big supermarkets, again!

Peter Switzer
4 July 2024

Lindsay Fox’s victory over big banks, big supermarkets and the likes of Australia Post has been officially given the ‘thumbs up’, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) saying his arm-twisting deal to save his Armaguard cash delivery business is a goer.

In case you missed it, our cash problems were becoming so dire that Coles had restricted its customers cash out requests to $200, when it was once $400!

Official approval was needed because Armaguard is a virtual monopoly and could have gone broke if the proposed reduced-price deal of its big customers was imposed. This came about because the demand for cash has been falling for years but it escalated after the pandemic. The consequence of that horror lockdown part of our lives has resulted in more online purchasing, which has made cash less important to consumers.

The AFR says that “the percentage of payments in cash has plunged from 62 per cent in 2010 to 13 per cent in 2021 and is expected to continue to fall”. And even more weird, since 2020 when the Coronavirus came to town, some businesses actually refuse to accept cash!

Faced with this less demand, Armaguard’s big customers wanted to pay less for its services and proposed a $26 million bailout package that Fox and his team rejected.

Given Lindsay started life as an owner-operated ‘one truck’ driver and is now a billionaire after founding and growing Linfox (a transport and logistics business), this is a big win.

This is how 7news.com.au reported the coup for Fox: “The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has provided interim authorisation for a $50 million bailout of transporter Armaguard from the country’s biggest banks and retailers”.

Funded by Armaguard’s big customers, the agreement means that it will receive monthly payments for the next 12 months in exchange for efficiency and restructuring requirements. The company will have to prove it’s heading in the right direction into self-sustaining profitability.

The monthly payments will come with other key performance indicators and can only be unlocked if Armaguard keeps up its end of the deal.

And while this is a good interim measure, Armaguard will have to prove its worth as the ACCC is calling for submissions from interested parties about the operational sustainability and efficiency measures and the independent pricing mechanism aspects of the proposed conduct,” AAP reports.

The ACCC “expects the Australian Banking Association (ABA), major banks and retailers and Armaguard to commit to “consulting with other affected parties in a meaningful way”.

This is a big win for Fox and his son, Executive Chair Peter Fox, but they’ll have to deliver more than cash in coming months. They’ll have to show that Armaguard is a ‘best practice’ business with its pricing fair for its big customers, who, ironically, aren’t always given the same scrutiny over their pricing and productivity practices.

It's good to be big and it’s good to be a billionaire. Banks can beat up a millionaire, but a billionaire is a different proposition and a different ‘enemy’!

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