PM vows to make efforts to boost competition in retail market
Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that his government will make efforts to increase competition in the retail market now dominated by big chains.
According to Skvernelis, the government is considering creating incentives for new participants to enter the market and easing the requirements for opening small shops.
"We are looking and will continue to look for solutions to step up competition," the prime minister told LRT Radio on Tuesday.
The concentration of large retail chains in Lithuania is too high now, he said.
Maxima currently has 242 stores, Iki has 229, Norfa has 143, Rimi has 56 and Lidl has 37 stores in Lithuania, based on publicly available data.
Requirements may be eased
Skvernelis said that the government will look into cutting the red tape for opening new shops.
"It becomes a mission impossible today for a small business to open a shop with all these requirements -- from having permanent contracts to (complying with) the standards," he said.
According to the prime minister, the responsible authorities have to look through contracts between product suppliers and retailers to see "whom the risks are being shifted to and what additional charges, such as marketing and shelving fees, and various penalties, emerge."
"It's very important that there are no agreements, especially when it comes to large suppliers to large shopping centers, where products are supplied at a clearly fixed price and on the condition that these products are supplied to other retail chains at higher prices or not supplied at all," he said.
The prime minister added that authorities in charge of consumer rights, competition and personal data protection should be more active, too.
He expects measures aimed at bringing down retail prices to be approved in the fall.