CMA cites ‘strength of evidence’ in Foster case

The CMA feels it has a strong case against Foster.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has revealed more details about the price fixing probe into Foster Refrigerator which was announced on 28 January.

Speaking exclusively to Catering Insight, Simon Belgard, CMA’s senior media relations officer stated: “The investigations into Foster and Ultra [a bathroom fittings supplier also under investigation] were prioritised due to the strength of evidence against each company.”

As to whether there will be more cases to come, he added: “The CMA has not taken any decisions on whether or not it will pursue further investigations in the future.”

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Both companies will now be able to make their defensive case, with Belgard setting out the following procedure and schedule: “The addressees to each of the statements of objections, Foster and Ultra, will both now have an opportunity to make representations on the matters set out in the statements of objections.

“Any such representations will be carefully considered by the CMA before taking any final decision.

“Our current timetable is to decide whether or not there has been an infringement of competition law in or around June 2016.”

The CMA has been scrutinising whether there are minimum advertised (MAP) pricing arrangements in the commercial catering equipment industry since August 2014.

After a protracted investigation the CMA has now claimed that Foster introduced MAPs for internet sales, which is says are “a form of resale price maintenance and infringements of competition law”.

Foster itself released a statement to say it has noted the provisional conclusions of the investigation and is co-operating fully with the CMA.

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