Exclusive lease agreements at SA malls under spotlight

The impact of municipal town planning and by-laws on the ability of small retailers to enter the market is among the issues which form part of a probe.

FILE: A shopping mall. Picture: www.themallatcarnival.co.za

CAPE TOWN - Public hearings are scheduled to get underway on Monday to determine whether anti-competitive behaviour and municipal regulations are preventing smaller operators from entering the grocery retail sector.

The investigation was launched in 2015.

As part of its investigation, the Competition Commission will revisit its probe into whether exclusive leases entered into between shopping centre landlords and national supermarket chains can be deemed as anti-competitive.

The Competition Commission has invited all role-players to raise their concerns over possible anti-competitive behaviour in the grocery retail sector at the public hearings.

In 2014, the commission ruled it has insufficient evidence to prove any contraventions.

But now the commission says it would be particularly interested to hear from specialist grocery retailers, such as bakeries and biltong shops, which may have been prevented from operating in a shopping centre as a result of these exclusive lease agreements.

The impact of municipal town planning and by-laws on the ability of small retailers to enter the market is among the issues which form part of the probe.

Once concluded, the Economic Development Minister will receive a report with recommendations, which may include suggestions for amended policies and legislation.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)