The Report of the 2018 Symposium on Trends in Retail Competition is now available to read here. The Symposium considered competition involving distributors and suppliers, unfair trading practices, geo-blocking in the context of selective distribution and brand effects, and online sales bans.

The Symposium opened with a discussion between a brand owner, lawyer and economist on competition involving distributors and suppliers. The discussion covered the exchange of confidential commercial information where distributors also compete at the product level with private label products, and the assessment of buyer power by competition authorities, pertintent in light of the proposed merger between Asda and J Sainsbury in the UK.

The session on regulating unfair trading practices included presentations from the European Commission on its proposals for regulating UPTs in the food sector and the UK's Groceries Code Adjudicator on her approach and success in strengthening compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. A panel discussion followed, introducing a perspective from Europe's voluntary Supply Chain Initiative.

The afternoon programme concentrated on geo-blocking, selective distribution and online sales bans, with presentations from the European Commission, brand owners and the German competition authority and economists.