There have been several recent cases in the EU concerning the application of competition law to retail lease restrictions, which are of interest to any landlord or tenant active in the sector in the EU. The most recent decision was announced by the German regulator (Bundeskartellamt) on 3 March 2015.
A factory outlet centre in Germany had been restricting its tenants from operating shops in another outlet centre (or individually) within a 150 km radius. The Bundeskartellamt required this restriction to be limited to five years and 50 km since the wider clause was considered to be anti-competitive. 150 km was seen as beyond the geographic market in which the outlet centre competes, since most of the customers who shop at the centre live within a 100 km radius of the center or use this shopping facility when passing through the area.
A particular issue had been that the operators of a fashion outlet center 147 km away from the centre had encountered considerable problems in acquiring tenants because of this clause. The Bundeskartellamt considered that the principal aim of the clause was to restrict competition between the centre and its current and potential competitors by curtailing the freedom of action of its tenants.