The Investigation Conducted by the Competition Authority on Chain Markets Engaging in Retail Food, Cleaning Products Trade and Producer and Wholesaler Level Enterprises Being Their Suppliers in Turkey

I. Introduction

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Competition Authority ("Authority") in Turkey investigated certain product prices that had been sold on-chain markets. Within the scope of the investigation carried out by the Authority; regarding the behaviour of the chain markets that trade retail food and cleaning products and the undertakings in the position of manufacturers and wholesalers, which are the suppliers of these markets, on product pricing On 28 October 2021, with the administrative judicial remedy open for the investigation; to determine the retail sale price of many products sold by the companies listed below, by forming a cartel-like union, which also exhibits the collect-distribute (hub and spoke) feature and disrupting free-market competition, through agreements or concerted actions as determined as in the Article 4 of the Competition Law: "Agreements between undertakings, concerted practices and associations of undertakings that aim to directly or indirectly prevent, distort or restrict competition in a good or service market, or that cause or may cause such an effect".

II. Decision

Within the scope of the decision numbered 21-53/747-360 given by the Competition Board ("Board");

1) Between Yeni Magazacilik A.S. (A101), BIM Birlesik Magazalar A.S., CarrefourSA Carrefour Sabanci Ticaret Merkezi A.S., Migros Ticaret A.S., Sok Marketler Ticaret A.S;

i. Acting together regarding product pricing and price transitions (increase-reduction) through direct or indirect communications through partner suppliers,

ii. Sensitive information that ensures competition in the market is subject to sharing such as; the determination of forward-looking product prices, price change dates, seasonal activities and campaigns, directly or through partner suppliers, ,

iii. It is ensured that the prices of the products in question are increased to the detriment of consumers by intervening in the prices of the undertakings that reduce the prices of the products or that have not yet made any price increase in the period when the prices in the market increase, through the suppliers.

iv. If competitors do not increase their prices, it has been determined that compliance with this collective action created between undertakings is constantly observed through methods that can be called penalizing strategies such as rapid product and/or region specific discounts and/or issuing a return invoice to the supplier.

The Board decided that; Savola Gida San.Tic. A.S which is also the supplier of these companies, is also equally responsible with these retailers, as it has determined that it participates in the said pricing and other practices by communicating with the institutions that make retail sales within the scope of its products, which affect the competitive environment and in violation of the Law.

Within the scope of Article 16 of the Law; Retailers, to be appreciated from the annual gross revenues determined by the Board and formed at the end of the fiscal year 2020 for "anticompetitive agreements, concerted practices and decisions"; the total amount of administrative fine has been imposed at this decision almost 2.7 billion Turkish lira. For every party;

i. BIM Birlesik Magazalar A.S.- 958.129.194,39 Turkish lira

ii. CarrefourSA Carrefour Sabanci Ticaret Merkezi A.S.- 142.469.772,07 Turkish lira

iii. Migros Ticaret A.S.- 517.672.762,75 Turkish lira;

iv. Savola Gida San. Tic. A.S.- 22.210.998,63 Turkish lira;

v. Sok Marketler Ticaret A.S.- 384.369.037,15 Turkish lira;

vi. A 101 Yeni Magazacilik A.S.- 646.582.329,39 Turkish lira;

vii. Supplier Savola Gida San. Tic. A.S-11.105.499,32 Turkish lira administrative fine has been imposed.

2) Within the scope of the investigation; The undertakings which were examined by the Board but were not penalized with this decision because no violation was found are;

Çagri Gida Temizlik Maddeleri Insaat Sanayi Ticaret A.S., Metro Grosmarket Bakirköy Alisveris Hizmetleri Tic. Ltd. Sti., Yeni Çagdas Ihtiyaç Gida Maddeleri Ins. Tic. Ltd. Sti., Yunus Market Isletmeleri Ticaret A.S., Gratis Iç Dis Tic. A.S., A.S. Watson Güzellik Bakim Ürünleri Tic. A.S., Karizma Besler Et Gida San. Tic. A.S., Türk Henkel Kimya San. Tic. A.S., Banvit Bandirma Vitaminli Yem San. A.S, Söke Degirmencilik San. Tic. A.S., Katmer Un Irmik San. Tic. A.S., Evpas Evyap Paz. Tic. A.S., Colgate-Palmolive Temizlik Ürün. San. Tic. A.S., Beypi Beypazari Tar. Ür. Paz. San. Tic. A.S., Küçükbay Yag Deterjan Sanayi A.S., Johnson and Johnson Sihhi Malzeme San.Tic. Ltd. Sti., Unilever Sanayi Ticaret Türk A.S., Nivea Beiersdorf Kozmetik San. Tic. A.S., Dentavit Saglik Ürünleri Tic. Ltd. Sti., Eczacibasi Tüketim Ürün. San. Tic. A.S., Dalan Kimya End. A.S., Nestle Türkiye Gida Sanayi A.S., Procter&Gamble Tüketim Mallari San. A.S. and Food Retailers Association.

III. Conclusion

Within the scope of the decision, many undertakings for which administrative fines are appreciated; in the publications they made in different communication channels, after this decision was shared with the public; They given statements to the press that they would apply to the administrative court because the punishment was unfair.

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