Bruce is a company that offers training services. The company has offered to limit its use of exclusive agreements with fitness studios in order to avoid that competition concerns arise. The Swedish Competition Authority has accepted the company’s commitments. Investigations into two of Bruce’s competitors have also been closed.
The Swedish Competition Authority initiated an investigation in the autumn of 2019 into how Im with Bruce AB (Bruce) was using exclusive agreements. At the end of 2019, the Swedish Competition Authority imposed interim measures prohibiting the company from applying said agreements while the investigation was ongoing. Bruce has now voluntarily undertaken to stop applying the said agreements. The company has also undertaken to limit the number of exclusive agreements it will use over the next two years.
“Bruce’s commitments to limit its use of exclusive agreements promotes the development of a market that is still in an initial phase,” comments Rikard Jermsten, the authority’s director general.
Bruce is a so-called fitness aggregator. The company offers membership that enables its customers to train at a number of different facilities. Bruce operates in Stockholm and Gothenburg, but does not run fitness studios on its own. Instead, the company concludes agreements with individual fitness studios.
The agreements Bruce had entered into with certain fitness studios were concluded in such a way that they prevented these studios from signing agreements with other fitness aggregators. According to the Swedish Competition Authority, these exclusive agreements could have amounted to an infringement of the Swedish Competition Act as they covered a significant part of the markets concerned. The Swedish Competition Authority considers that the commitments offered by Bruce are sufficient to ensure that the competition issues identified do not arise on the market for as long as the commitments apply. The decision to accept the commitments is subject to a penalty if Bruce should fail to comply with the commitments.
“If a company concludes exclusive agreements with important suppliers on the market, it can be difficult for smaller and new companies to establish themselves and operate on that market. This weakens competition and would ultimately harm consumers,” explains Rikard Jermsten.
In parallel with the investigation into Bruce, the Swedish Competition Authority also investigated whether two other fitness aggregators, namely Classpass and Swiftr, relied on exclusive agreements in breach of the competition rules. The Swedish Competition Authority did not find that the companies’ actions affected competition to such an extent that it would be justified to continue investigating these two companies. Consequently, the Swedish Competition Authority has closed its investigations into Classpass and Swiftr.
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