The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has closed its investigation into a possible violation of competition rules in the home-decor sector. ACM gives priority to other investigations, because the investigation has thus far uncovered insufficient evidence for establishing a violation. ACM will keep a close watch on this sector, and will take a serious look at any new indications.
ACM had launched the investigation following reports about suppliers that forcefully imposed minimum prices on retailers. In addition, various suppliers allegedly concluded price-fixing agreements regarding the retail prices of their products.'
What is that suppliers and retailers can and cannot do?
- Retailers must set their own retail prices.
- Also, retailers must independently decide whether or not to give a discount, and if so, how much.
- Suppliers cannot do anything beyond giving non-binding recommendations regarding retail prices or discounts.
- Suppliers cannot, in any way whatsoever (either directly or indirectly), pressure retailers to follow such recommendations. For example, suppliers cannot make threats about stopping to supply products.
- Suppliers cannot give retailers any details about retail prices of other retailers.
- In addition, retailers cannot pass on any details about selling prices of other suppliers.
ACM ensures fair competition
Competition ensures that products are of high quality and that they are offered on the market at competitive prices. Competition also promotes innovation. That is why ACM checks whether businesses compete fairly with one another, and that they do not conclude any price-fixing agreements, share the market, or restrict competition in any other way, for example by exchanging information. ACM protects people and businesses against unfair competition, and ensures that markets work well.