Coles' plan to replace traditional, independent merchandising reps with its own panel of approved field agents is also being considered for its convenience and liquor stores.
BusinessDay obtained a confidential tender document setting out Coles' plans to restructure its relationship with suppliers and field agents, and proposing the new arrangements could be introduced at its 1500 Coles Express convenience store network as well as its liquor store brands – Liquorland, First Choice and Vintage Cellars.
Coles is said to be in the process of putting together a shortlist for its panel of approved field agents for supermarkets, after the first tender closed on Friday.
The new supply arrangements are expected to be introduced towards the end of this year, starting with five suppliers in its first two months, then offered to all suppliers by late 2015.
Coles announced the restructure in early June, arguing it would save the company millions of dollars annually.
The changes will see Coles become the arbiter of fees charged to suppliers by field agents and will allow the retailer to generate significant rebates.
Coles believes the move will deliver more value for suppliers by simplifying and standardising duties performed by field reps.
"One area suppliers tell us we could improve is how we work with their field force teams – reps they employ to support their brand in-store,” said a Coles spokesman
"So we are currently exploring options to make this service better for suppliers, better for our stores and most importantly better for customers."