In my supermarket newsletter of July 11, 2013, I already predicted that the establishment of collection points for goods ordered via the internet would set the judicial pens in motion. Partly in view of the lack of clarity as to whether or not such collection points require a retail destination. Well, the District Court of East Brabant has now ruled on this on March 14, 2014. The issue concerns a collection point for bicycles ordered via the internet. These bicycles could be collected from the wholesaler and collection is only a very limited part of the total wholesale activities. Nevertheless, the court is of the opinion that the actual supply of these goods should be regarded as a retail activity. This is particularly an interesting statement because such pick-up points are popping up like mushrooms. In any case, with this ruling in hand, it can be argued that a solitarily established pick-up point is not possible without the zoning plan providing for a retail destination at that location. In the fact that payment is made in advance via the internet and the actual transaction has thus already taken place via the internet, the court sees no reason to come to a different conclusion. Obviously, what is and what is not possible at a certain location must be assessed on the basis of the current zoning plan for that location. However, the line in the case law that is emerging is clear. Those franchisees who feel competition from their own franchisor who establishes such collection points thus have a good instrument to defend themselves against, even if this competition takes place outside the exclusive area. Finally, the court confirms that the entrepreneur who faces direct competition from this may be regarded as an interested party in the context of administrative law and can therefore request enforcement of such prohibited activities. It shows once again that franchisors in the food sector should ensure that such collection points are to be regarded as an integral part of the formula.
Mr. J. Strong – Franchise attorney
Ludwig & Van Dam Franchise attorneys, franchise legal advice. Do you want to respond? Mail to Sterk@ludwigvandam.nl