Following the FCO’s intervention, Liebherr- Hausgeräte Vertriebs- und Service GmbH (“Liebherr”) dropped certain sales conditions which in the FCO’s preliminary view would have resulted in disadvantaging online sales compared to sales in brick-and-mortar shops.
Liebherr sells household appliances mainly through authorized retailers in a so-called selective distribution system and has an important market position for freezers and refrigerated wine cabinets in Germany. In 2021, Liebherr introduced a rebate scheme imposing significantly stricter criteria for online sales than for offline sales, e.g., online retailers were to ensure customer service between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays and holidays, guarantee a specific delivery period for products that are not in stock, and offer certain modes of payment.
The FCO examined the rebate scheme upon complaints from market participants and found that the undue disadvantages for online and hybrid retailers (selling online and offline) were suitable to render price-active online sales unattractive and thereby weaken the intra-brand competition between Liebherr retailers.
The FCO terminated the proceedings upon Liebherr’s commitment to align the criteria for online sales to those for offline sales. The FCO announced to continue to closely observe selective distribution systems, in particular with regard to requirements for online sales.