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Woolworths CEO 'walks out' of ABC grilling: 'I shouldn't have said that'

The intense exchange comes as the nation's biggest supermarkets face a senate inquiry into allegations of price gouging.

Facing a grilling from an ABC journalist over allegations of price gouging and the deep-rooted issues with "Australia's highly concentrated supermarket" sector, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has walked out of the interview, exclaiming "I'm done".

The supermarket boss sat down with reporter Angus Grigg as part of the broadcaster's Four Corners program, which examines "how Coles and Woolworths profit off rising prices". Banducci, who has been Woolies CEO for eight years, was interviewed for the program alongside Coles boss Leah Weckert.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci.
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has walked off the set of an ABC interview after facing a 'pretty basic line of questioning'. Source: ABC

Banducci was facing a "pretty basic line of questioning" from Grigg when his "startling" reaction was caught on camera. Grigg can be heard asking: "Rod Sims, the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says that we have one of the most concentrated supermarket [sectors] in the world, is he lying?"

To which Banducci responds "it's not true — it is not true", before he attempts to argue that the industry is in fact "an incredibly competitive market". Grigg then interjects saying: "I'm sorry, the former head of the ACCC says", trying to repeat the question before being cut off by Banducci, who responds "[He's] retired".

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"I don't think you would impugn his integrity and his understanding of competition law [because he's retired]," Grigg then says, adding "he retired [just] 18 months ago".

Heated interview prompts Woolies CEO to walk out

Banducci then asks "can we take that out, is that okay?", going on to say "I shouldn't have said that" before asking for the footage to be cut from the show. Grigg then states that "we're on the record, you've said it...let's just move on".

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci and ABC journalist Angus Grigg.
ABC Journalist grilled Banducci over allegations of price gouging and Australia 'concentrated' supermarket sector. Source: ABC

"I think I'm done guys," Banducci retorts as he stands up and walks off the set. "Really, you're walking out?" Grigg responds, later going on to describe the supermarket boss's move as "pretty startling".

"I think it shows you that, there you have the boss of the largest supermarket chain in the country really unwilling to face too many questions," Grigg said on ABC's News Breakfast. "It shows how little scrutiny they've had over the years and I think that's a really big problem."

Banducci returned to complete the interview.

In Australia Coles and Woolworths control 65 per cent of the grocery market. The two supermarket giants were last year ordered to front a senate inquiry that will investigate the notion that Australia’s major supermarkets are “price gouging” shoppers already battling the cost-of-living crisis.

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Yahoo Australia