Two of the main Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) case handlers in the recent catering equipment price fixing investigation took the time to meet with dealers and suppliers to advise them on getting through the mire of pricing without contravening competition law.

At a CEDA partners meeting in the Abbey Hotel, Redditch, in June, project director Susan Oxley and assistant project director Carissa Baker presented to the assembled industry luminaries and took questions from the audience.

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Keen to stress that their answers were their opinions only and not necessarily those of the CMA, Oxley and Baker first outlined the relevant sections of competition law for the catering equipment sector, before going into detail about the methods and implications of the case that saw Foster eventually receive close to a £2.3m fine.

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According to Oxley: “There is quite a lot of interest from us in any impediments or restrictions to online sales channels.

“The growth of the internet across a lot of sectors has brought additional pressure and competition. So when faced with those pressures, companies question how they can respond.”

Therefore the presentation was aimed at giving manufacturers and dealers a good idea of how to react in these circumstances.

Oxley explained that the Chapter 1 Prohibition section of the Competition Act 1998 which concerns anti-competitive agreements is the most relevant to the foodservice equipment sector.

“This covers any agreements which restrict or distort competition, including price fixing, cartels, bid rigging and market sharing,” she detailed.