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NFDA in “productive discussions” with CMA on new Block Exemption rules

NFDA chief executive, Sue Robinson

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) said it has been in “production discussions” with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on new Block Exemption guidelines.

The NFDA and its advisers TLT have been holding talks with the CMA following its invitation to submit additional information and suggestions after the initial submission of a response to the Department for Business and Trade’s (DBT’s) consultation on the draft Motor Vehicle Agreements Block Exemption Order 2023 (MVBEO).

The DBT closed submissions for responses on May 16. The current MVBER is due to expire on May 31, 2023.

The NFDA said its discussions with the CMA included information in respect of an industry transition to agency-type models, as well as further insights on “possible indirect restrictions and associated guidance to preserve the competitive independence of retail-level trading partners, with a view to maintaining healthy levels of intra-brand competition, which dealers are so key to preserving, in the interests of consumers”. 

Sue Robinson, NFDA chief executive, who led the engagement with the CMA, said: “The sector is undergoing radical and rapid change, which we are keen to ensure is considered carefully as part of any ongoing regulatory review.

“A healthy dealer network is central to ensuring that, at a time when many consumers need to achieve genuine savings, the sector is able to continue to deliver the best possible proposition and service for them.

"The CMA puts protecting consumer interests at the heart of its policy making, and our discussions with the CMA are aligned with this.

“The NFDA remains committed to assisting the CMA’s helpful review and awaits further publication in due course.”

The NFDA has previously said that the CMA's draft Block Exemption rules "left too much unsaid".

Back in November 2021 the NFDA’s Consultation paper and response to the CMA on ‘Retained Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation’ stated that increased consolidation among car retailers and manufacturers along with OEMs’ direct sales and agency model strategies – along with the risk of increased control of the customer journey – posed a threat to competition and value for car buying consumers.

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