Monday 12 January 2015

Hungarian Lawmakers Pass Law On Banning Unprofitable Supermarkets, in the name of fair competition

According to Xpatloop, lawmakers have approved a government law on banning from 2018 supermarkets and hypermarkets that fail to make a profit for two consecutive years.

Given that the new law was this morning cited by Tesco, Hungary's biggest supermarket chain and third-biggest employer, as the reason why they will close 13 shops in Hungary in order to remain profitable for the long term, it can be seen that the new legislation is being taken seriously.... 

The government makes the moves as part of a policy to eliminate of factors that enable large supermarket chains to abuse their preeminent positions. Steps already include a 15-fold rise in the so-called food supervisory fee, the recently introduced advertisement tax, and the ban on tobacco shops in some big supermarkets.

It can thus be seen that the Hungarian government have gone farther than other countries in attempting to combat unfair competition, in that they have reached to the heart of how large companies exercise scale-power and focused on what they regard as root causes of unfair advantage, namely the ability to cross-subsidise unprofitable store locations, ways of promoting (advertisement tax), provision of food services (food supervisory fee, from 0.1% of sales) and the sale of some categories (tobacco).

In other words, these moves should be seen as a progression towards ensuring fair dealings by large retailers and suppliers in an attempt to reduce anti-competitive pressure on medium and smaller trade partners.

It remains to be seen how soon competition authorities in other countries take similar steps, in the search for fair dealings for all...

Meanwhile, time for UK suppliers and retailers to anticipate the inevitable, vis appropriate 'what-ifs'? 

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