About 25% of households are more or less confined to one supermarket for daily shopping. For most Dutch people that is Albert Heijn. There is often no alternative available within walking distance. But how bad is it really that any company, on its own merits, conquers a top position within the framework of the law? Many Dutch people are more or less stuck with one supermarket for their groceries. For many people that is AH. In Groningen and The Hague, Albert Heijn is the closest supermarket for approximately 70% of households. C1000 and Jumbo are also making their mark in this respect. Although Dutch people complain about many things, you rarely hear the complaint that they have to buy from their trusted supermarket. Nevertheless, AH’s high market share has caused quite a stir.
University of Groningen
The above figures emerged from a study published in April 2010 in the economists’ journal ESB. Researcher D. Stelder from Groningen University then advised that municipalities should be able to ban takeovers or establishments of supermarkets in order to limit their monopoly position. But what is the difference between a bag of potatoes from the small local supermarket and those from C1000? The research by the University of Groningen was conducted following monopoly complaints against AH, which were submitted to the competition watchdog NMA at the time. However, Albert Heijn is the nearest supermarket for approximately a third of Dutch people.
Dominant position of supermarkets
As soon as Albert Heijn takes over another chain, the NMa examines whether local dominant positions will arise. The rule is that there must be a competing supermarket within 15 minutes of driving. Otherwise, AH will have to divest an acquired super. But if AH simply opens a new branch, the NMa obviously cannot do anything. This also applies if the group’s market share grows organically nationally. The NMa can then only take action if Albert Heijn abuses its monopoly position. The AH national market share was approximately 35% in 2016. A market share of 40% is seen by the NMa as an ‘economic position of power’, and that is not the case with AH.
The advice to have the government intervene in the monopoly positions and market shares of companies is remarkable and is also quite at odds with the principle of a free market policy. A government-run economy led to the collapse of communism. It shows that patronizing by the government leads to little good. In that respect, the advice to thwart healthy good companies is quite strange. As if you are going to slow down an honest top athlete because of the records he achieves.
Google, Albert Heijn, Microsoft
When it comes to companies with a very strong market position, it appears that this market position has almost always been achieved because these multinationals or national groups know their trade and are therefore appreciated by consumers. So offering better value for money than their competitors. Researchers from the University of Groningen portray AH as a threat to consumers, but it is precisely the consumer who chooses Albert Heijn out of complete free will. After all, if the service, price-quality ratio and customer friendliness of this supermarket were not good, the group would not have been able to conquer such a market share. The question is therefore whether it is the will of the consumer to hinder successful companies. If Google was no good, consumers would often turn to other search engines.
Why a political party?
If it is the case that large market shares of free companies must be combated, why not also include in the law that political parties may not receive more seats than, for example, 40%, because otherwise they would gain too much power. Obviously an absurd idea, because it is the democratic wish of the voter, just as it is absurd to inhibit a healthy company, in this case a retailer, in its development, if it is apparently the wish of the consumer (also a retailer). type of voter) to choose the relevant supermarket chain.
Online grocery shopping
An increasing phenomenon that not only saves consumers time, but probably also money, because impulse purchases have little chance.
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