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Albert Heijn and Jan Linders offer commitments to ACM regarding the sale and commercial exploitation of supermarkets

Dutch supermarket chains Albert Heijn and Jan Linders have made commitments to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) to sell five supermarkets to competitors, and to no longer exploit these themselves. Thanks to these commitments, consumers will, as the Jan Linders-formula ceases to exist, continue to have sufficient choice for their daily groceries in their immediate vicinities. In addition, ACM approved Jan Linders’ acquisition of ten Albert Heijn supermarkets. As part of that acquisition’s assessment, ACM also looked into the possible consequences for consumers of the cooperation agreement that both parties signed in late 2022. In this agreement, Albert Heijn and Jan Linders agreed, among other things, that 47 of Jan Linders’ locations would be converted into Albert Heijn franchise supermarkets. Parties offered commitments to ACM in the context of this informal investigation, and, in response to those commitments, ACM has closed its investigation. 

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: “It is important that consumers always have sufficient choice between different supermarket formulas. Different formulas should compete with each other, vying for the favor of consumers with their selections of products, prices, and service. That is why ACM has examined what the possible harm of the cooperation agreement between Albert Heijn and Jan Linders could be for consumers. The assessment showed that, in five cities, consumers might be left with too little choice for their grocery shopping. That is why Albert Heijn and Jan Linders have made commitments to ACM to sell locations in these five cities to a competing supermarket formula, and to no longer exploit these themselves.”

What is this case about?

Supermarket formula Jan Linders operates 63 supermarket locations, the majority of which are in the southeastern part of the Netherlands. As a result of the agreement with Albert Heijn, the independent supermarket formula Jan Linders will cease to exist. Jan Linders will become a franchisee of Albert Heijn with the majority of its current locations. The distribution center of Jan Linders will be sold to Albert Heijn. Furthermore, Albert Heijn will sell ten locations to Jan Linders, which will continue to exploit these locations as franchisee with the Albert Heijn-formula.

What was ACM’s decision?

ACM has cleared the acquisition of the ten Albert Heijn locations in the towns and cities of Beuningen, Brunssum, 's-Hertogenbosch, Nijmegen, Maastricht, Rosmalen (2 locations), Sittard, Tegelen, and Tilburg. These supermarket locations will switch ownership, but will keep the Albert Heijn-formula. 

In addition, ACM examined the possible consequences of the conversion of Jan Linders locations to Albert Heijn locations. In its assessment, ACM looked into whether consumers would have sufficient choice between different formulas, taking into account actual purchasing patterns and travel movements. Albert Heijn and Jan Linders submitted information to ACM, and fully cooperated with ACM. On the basis of its informal assessment, ACM has identified possible competition risks in the local markets around the five Jan Linders locations in Beek, Heerlen, Herten, Roggel, and Swalmen. In these areas, there may be insufficient choice and therefore insufficient competition between formulas following the agreement between Albert Heijn en Jan Linders. For the sake of concluding ACM’s informal assessment as quickly as possible, Jan Linders has committed to selling five locations to competitors in these areas. In addition, Albert Heijn and Jan Linders have committed to not exploiting these five locations over the next ten years. ACM has declared these commitments binding, and has closed its informal investigation, as these commitments preemptively eliminate the possible risks to competition. 

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