The Competition and Markets Authority has sent “warning letters” to 20 catering equipment suppliers it suspects of being involved in price fixing after it today slapped Foster Refrigerator with a £2.3m fine for restricting the online prices set by dealers.
Following a formal allegation made against Foster owner ITW by the CMA earlier this year, the refrigeration manufacturer has admitted that it engaged in resale price maintenance (RPM) in internet sales between 2012 and 2014.
Foster is the only catering equipment company to be fined following a government investigation into the sector that has lasted almost two years.
However, a handful of companies remain on the CMA’s radar as a result of its probe and while it has not issued any formal charges against them it has now sent out correspondence warning them to review their practices.
“The warning letters have been sent to suppliers of commercial catering equipment that may have implemented minimum advertising price polices and also to dealers that may have agreed to apply the policies imposed by their suppliers,” the CMA said.
It stated that a warning letter does not itself mean that a company has been found to have broken competition law. However, if necessary, it said it will also take further enforcement action against companies which participate in RPM.
The warning letter explains the CMA’s concerns about their business practices, recommends that a self-assessment of their practices is carried out to ensure compliance with competition law, and requests suppliers to write to the CMA with details of what they have done, or are planning to do, to comply with the law.
Full the full story on the conclusion of the Foster case read the report by our sister publication Catering Insight HERE.