De Brauw is assisting Albert Heijn, the largest Dutch supermarket chain, in a dispute with its franchisees. At present, 276 stores – nearly a third of all Albert Heijn supermarket stores – are franchise stores.
The Association of Franchisees, together with almost all Albert Heijn franchisees, have filed claims on the interpretation of the franchise agreements and the resulting distribution of costs and vendor bonuses and premiums. Although currently no specific amount is being claimed in these proceedings, claimants estimate the underlying value of their claim in excess of EUR 400 million. A court hearing took place on 13 September at the Haarlem District Court.
Albert Heijn defended itself at the hearing, pointing out that the claims are irreconcilable with the applicable agreement and the long standing practice between parties. Albert Heijn explained that the claims amount to an unreasonable attempt to renegotiate the agreements in court instead of at the negotiation table.
This is so far the largest known dispute between a franchiser and its franchisees in the Netherlands.
A (partial) decision on the matter is expected at the end of this year.
Marnix Leijten (lead partner), Marten Münch, Kirstin Nijburg, Sebastiaan Kool
28 October 2019
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