CMA clarifies competition investigation calls

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has written to Catering Insight to clear up some misunderstandings it believes have arisen through its investigation into suspected breaches of competition law, regarding the sale of commercial catering equipment.

In response to Catering Insight’s editor’s comment in the May issue (see here), Susan Oxley, CMA’s project director for this investigation, wrote: “From your article we understand that some people who received telephone calls from us were confused by what we said and misunderstood the reasons why we made contact with them. I thought it useful to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

“During the course of any investigation it is normal practice for us to gather as much information as we can about the relevant industry in order to get a good understanding of how it works. We have found that there is very little publicly available information on the commercial catering equipment sector and that is why we contacted various people working in the industry to gather information on how it operates.

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“We tried to make it clear to the people we called that they were not part of our investigation at that time. However, for legal reasons, we had to point out that that position could change in the future. This was absolutely not intended to imply that anyone who failed to help us would find themselves subject to an investigation.

“I must stress that the purpose of those calls was not to obtain information about anti-competitive conduct, nor to implicate any distributors, and it was entirely voluntary whether someone chose to talk to us or not. Unfortunately, it is apparent that in a few cases the people we called did not realise that the calls were voluntary and that no one would be investigated if they couldn’t help us. I do apologise for any misunderstanding we may have caused and as a result of this experience, we will re-examine what we say in the future when we contact people in this and other industries.

“In conclusion, I would like to thank the many people who were able to speak to us and have helped us to gain a far greater understanding of the industry.”

For more information on the investigation, click here.

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