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International routes to market

The ease with which products can be sold across borders can provide a great opportunity for international expansion. But there is no one-size-fits-all model for getting products to market.

There are strategic issues to consider upfront. The optimum model will depend on a supplier’s appetite for risk and desire for control, and all models permitted by the competition rules involve some degree of trade-off between the two. The best model might differ from territory to territory. Even within the EEA, competition rules differ somewhat between jurisdictions, as do the risks and consequences of enforcement. And, the model chosen in one territory may impact on what is possible elsewhere.

Tricky day-to-day issues can also arise. To what extent can the supplier control pricing and promotions? How – if at all – can the supplier prevent distributors targeting one another’s territories? What are the rules on online selling and can distributors be prevented from using online platforms, marketplaces and price comparison websites?

The risks of getting it wrong are high. In recent years we have seen a significant increase in infringement proceedings by national competition authorities (NCAs) and, more recently, by the European Commission, and parties who agree pricing or online selling/territorial restrictions risk high fines. The commercial risks of choosing the wrong model or not properly implementing it are also high.

How can we help?

Eversheds Sutherland advise on the main routes to market, a summary of key distribution issues that frequently arise, those that tend to be treated commonly across jurisdictions and how those that differ are treated from one jurisdiction to the next. It focuses on issues competition authorities are particularly interested in and where businesses risk serious consequences for getting it wrong, especially where a different approach is taken from one jurisdiction to the next.

Contact our competition, EU and trade team

Should you wish to speak to someone, our legal teams on the ground can provide global advice with local knowledge to guide you through the set-up and ongoing implementation of an international distribution network.

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