In a press release issued on 3 July 2014, the German Federal Cartel Office ("FCO") announced that it had adopted a decision finding that the German supermarket corporation EDEKA Zentrale AG & Co. KG ("EDEKA") abused its market position on the food retailing procurement market by prompting its suppliers to grant it contractual benefits – so-called "wedding rebates" – following EDEKA's takeover of the supermarket chain Plus in 2009. However, no fine was imposed for this abuse.
According to the FCO's press release, EDEKA insisted on suppliers granting it the same preferential conditions and benefits that they had previously granted to Plus without, however, justifying why it should be granted such preferential treatment. EDEKA's claims were also made with retroactive effect and, reportedly, as many as 500 suppliers were subject to such pressure from EDEKA.
The FCO concluded that, whilst not being dominant, EDEKA's market position on the procurement market in the food retail sector was strong enough for its suppliers to be economically dependent on EDEKA. As a result, EDEKA's claims towards its suppliers were found by the FCO to amount to an abuse of its market position. The FCO's conclusion reflects the wording of Section 20 of the German Act against Restraints of Competition, according to which the prohibition of an abuse of a dominant position applies equally to non-dominant companies with superior market power in their relations with small and medium-sized suppliers or purchasers that are economically dependent on them.
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