This article was first published on ILO, 11.06.2020
The Competition Protection Agency (CPA) recently praised Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Slovenija, podjetje za prodajo in distribucijo brezalkoholnih pijač, doo (CCHBC) for improving its business practices in the local hotel, restaurant and cafe (HoReCa) sector.
The improvements were implemented voluntarily and were the result of discussions between the CPA and CCHBC.(1)
Prevention is better than cure
The CCHBC's improved business practices with Slovenian customers from the HoReCa sector included:
- implementing a formal contractual separation of the sale of its carbonated non-alcoholic beverages from other types of beverage;
- ensuring that customers have the option to enter into the exclusivity arrangements for only beverages where the CCHBC is not dominant;
- removing customers' obligation to include new CCHBC products in their portfolio; and
- making marketing investment payment specifications more transparent.
The CPA also stressed that the CCHBC already has in place a compliance programme in the HoReCa sector and it trains its employees on a regular basis.
Importance of effective competition
The CPA's press release was brief and lacked information regarding what triggered the CCHBC to approach the CPA and the content and nature of their discussions.
Nevertheless, the CPA pointed out that the CCHBC's proactive conduct and constructive cooperation is an example of good practice for other companies to ensure competition law compliance, especially considering that the CCHBC implemented those measures without the CPA initiating any formal proceeding against it.
The CPA also stressed that such practices contribute to its aim to build awareness of the importance of effective competition on the markets.
This comes as a bit of a surprise, as in the past the CPA has been reluctant to engage in informal discussions or discuss individual practices. As a result, it has not been common practice for companies active in the Slovenian markets to approach the CPA in such manner. However, these latest developments might be a signal that the CPA wishes to be more active and give more informal guidance going forward, which companies can consider when assessing their behaviour and commercial practices.
(1) The press release in Slovenian is available here.
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