The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today alleged that commercial refrigerator manufacturer Foster Refrigeration, a division of ITW, has breached competition law.
The long-awaited initial findings from CMA’s 18-month-long investigation says that Foster introduced a minimum advertised price (MAP) for internet sales, which effectively limited the ability of retailers of their products to make online sales below a specified price level.
The CMA alleges that this is a form of resale price maintenance and an infringement of competition law.
The CMA’s findings are provisional and no final conclusion has been reached regarding whether there has been a breach of competition law.
Ann Pope, the CMA Director responsible for the case, said: “The internet has driven innovation in retail markets. Where ‘traditional’ businesses operating through bricks-and-mortar shops face intense price competition from online sales, suppliers may be tempted to respond by introducing practices, like minimum advertised prices, that restrict such competition.
“Retailers should be free to set their own sales prices online. This drives competition among rival retailers because they compete to attract consumers who are using the internet to shop around for the best deals.”
The CMA will carefully consider representations from the parties between now and May before reaching a final decision on whether the law has been infringed.
Catering Insight has contacted Foster to see if it wishes to provide a response to the CMA’s statement.