For most things in life, simple or not there is some recurrence. Yes, the sun rises every morning, time repeats its self every 24 hours, fashion has a repeat cycle and history repeats itself at regular intervals. Thirty five years ago the dominating beer market in Greece was FIX Brewery, which had managed one way or another to be in every home and business. Those who were around at that time can acknowledge complaints and grievances of the time, although not always objectively. A “young” in age and newly established brewery at that time which was struggling to win a share of the beer market was the Athenian Brewery. Much is heard about how and why FIX Brewery eventually closed. One thing is certain that over the years and up to today any “new players” that tried to get into the brewing game in Greece found before them the overpowering force that the Athenian Brewery has now become.
The principal complaint of all who attempted to brew beer or get involved in the beer industry in general was that they weren’t able to “play” on equal terms not only due to lack of budget allowances but mainly because of the “rules” that have been unofficially set. According to other breweries in Greece “the Athenian Brewery has adopted and is implementing a long standing, narrow minded policy in order to exclude and limit the growth of its competitors…” Sound familiar? To me, it sounds a lot like what was being said about the FIX brewery not so long ago.
Ongoing complaints and grievances mention that “Athenian Brewery is attributed “bribing” tactics towards wholesalers, such as giving significant financial incentives, under the condition that they limit the amount of purchases from competitors. Athenian Brewery is also said, among other things, to provide preferential credit terms for stocking up on their products and apply pressure on wholesalers to stop doing business with competing brands”. Once again this reminds me something of the past.
The two paragraphs above are not comments from some random discussion but excerpts from the press release from the Competition Commission which was released on Friday, December 20, 2013. According to this, the Competition committee will meet on 20 February 2014 to consider, upon recommendation, if there is abuse of a dominant position in the beer market by “Athenian Brewery S.A. In violation of Article 2 of law 703/1977, now 2 of law 3959/2011 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). It should be noted that the proposal is not binding for the Competition Commission which will decide, after taking into consideration all the factors and views, of all parties involved.
The above press release refers to the mandatory investigation of the Hellenic Competition Commission regarding the accusations of Mythos Brewery S.A. against potential violations of article 2 of Law 703/1977, now 2. 3959/2011 and 102 TFEU by the Athenian Brewery. You can see the entire press release here.
After the decision of the Competition Commission, sometime in 2014, we will find out if the Athenian brewery has been conducting business using unlawful methods for years. Will the result of that decision be that the beer market will open for the smaller and newer breweries without difficulties or excuses? What will the consequences be if committee decides that the Athenian Brewery is not conducting business in an illicit manner? What will every ones reaction be and especially Mythos Brewery that has instituted the accusations.
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