WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission should be aware of the potential antitrust problems posed by category captains, but there is no need for the government to step in and regulate the process.
This was one of the points of consensus reached during an all-day roundtable here last week sponsored by the Washington-based American Antitrust Institute, according to Albert Foer, the AAI's president.
Foer said the session drew about 70 participants -- including retailers, lawyers, economists and academics -- representing "all possible viewpoints" on the issue. Commented an industry source to SN, "One of the most significant things about the meeting was that it took place at all."
Although "there were differing attitudes of how necessary it was for government to pay close attention" to the practice, Foer said there was general agreement on "not calling on the government to do anything at this point other than be aware of what category captains are and the way that they can be problematic."
Participants also discussed the pros and cons of putting category captaincy agreements in writing, said Foer. "The pro is that if anything goes wrong, you have the agreement saying this is how things were supposed to work," he noted. "The con is that if the agreement is not carefully worded, it could be used as evidence of a conspiracy."
Foer said the AAI is producing a report on the roundtable that he expects will be available in about three weeks.