Commercial catering equipment sector: investigation into anti-competitive practices

The CMA investigated suspected breaches of competition law relating to vertical arrangements between certain suppliers and resellers in the commercial catering equipment sector under Chapter I of the CA98 and Article 101 TFEU.

Case reference: CE/9856-14

Case timetable

Date Action
10 June 2016 Publication of non-confidential version of infringement decision
24 May 2016 Investigation settled, final infringement decision issued to party and warning letters issued to a number of suppliers and resellers
May 2016 Party offered to settle investigation with CMA
28 January 2016 Statement of objections issued to a manufacturer of commercial refrigeration products
June 2015 Decision taken to continue with the investigation (further update by the end of January 2016)
February to June 2015 Further investigation including further analysis and potential further information requests and stakeholder meetings
February 2015 Decision on whether to proceed with investigation or to close the investigation
August 2014 to January 2015 Initial investigation: information gathering, including issuance of formal or informal information requests and parties’ responses
August 2014 to January 2015 CMA analysis and review of parties’ responses to information requests
August 2014 to January 2015 Potential state of play meetings with parties under investigation
28 August 2014 Investigation opened

Change log

The following changes have been made to the case timetable since it was first published in August 2014:

Date of change Reason for change Change made to timetable
17 December 2014 Additional time needed to analyse and review responses to information requests Estimated timing of decision on whether to proceed with investigation or to close the investigation put back by around 1 month

Follow-up compliance work

21 June 2016: The CMA has published advice to help suppliers and retailers across all sectors understand the practices that are regarded as resale price maintenance (RPM), and what to do if they are, or may have been, involved in RPM or similar practices.

The CMA has written an open letter to businesses alerting them that if suppliers restrict their retailers’ prices that can break the law. The CMA’s open letter is accompanied by an at-a-glance guide to the law and case studies with lessons from the CMA’s catering equipment and bathroom fittings enforcement cases.

Press release: CMA guides businesses on online competition law (21.6.16)

Non-confidential infringement decision

10 June 2016: The CMA has published a non-confidential version of the decision in this case.

Settlement and infringement decision

24 May 2016: The CMA issued a decision finding that ITW Limited infringed competition law and imposed a fine of £2,298,820. ITW Limited admitted engaging in online resale price maintenance in relation to the supply of commercial catering equipment in the UK. The initial fine was reduced by 10% for ITW setting up a comprehensive programme to train its staff in compliance with competition law and a further 20% to reflect savings due to ITW’s admission and co-operation with the CMA under a settlement agreement.

The CMA has sent warning letters to 20 other suppliers and dealers of commercial catering equipment which it suspects may have engaged in similar practices regarding internet sales. Warning letters have been sent to dealers of commercial catering equipment that may have agreed to apply supplier’s minimum advertising price policies. A warning letter does not amount to a finding as to whether or not a company has infringed competition law.

Statement of Objections

28 January 2016: The CMA issued a statement of objections alleging that a manufacturer of commercial refrigeration products breached competition law.

Case information

On 28 August 2014, the CMA launched an investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in the commercial catering equipment sector. The investigation was under Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The CMA issued an infringement decision on 24 May 2016 to a manufacturer of commercial refrigeration products.

Further detail of the CMA’s procedures in Competition Act 1998 cases is available here: CMA’s Procedures in Competition Act cases.

Contacts

Assistant project director

Carissa Baker (020 3738 6648, carissa.baker@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Project director

Susan Oxley (020 3738 6365, susan.oxley@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Senior responsible officer

Ann Pope (020 3738 6786, ann.pope@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

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