Dispute between Albert Heijn and its franchisees
Fort Advocaten represents almost all of Albert Heijn’s franchisees and their association. Albert Heijn is a supermarket formula, a division of Ahold Delhaize and the market leader in the Netherlands, which also has branches in Belgium and Germany.
Briefly stated, a dispute has arisen between these parties regarding the manner in which the annual financial settlement should take place. The franchisees took legal action at the end of December 2014. In those proceedings the franchisees are arguing, among other things, that their franchisor is charging costs incorrectly and that, contrary to the agreements made, it is not letting its franchisees share in the proceeds and other benefits that the franchisor obtains from third parties, partly due to efforts made by the franchisees. The main claims relate to a declaratory judgment regarding the manner of settlement and access to documents of the franchisor to verify the above. The franchisees’ claims were disallowed in the first instance. The court noted in its judgment that it cannot find the specific agreements alleged by the franchisees in the franchise agreements, but that does not mean that the demands presented may not be legitimate “at the negotiating table”. The court therefore called on the parties to solve their points of dispute by means of negotiations.
The franchisees believe that the court took insufficient note of their arguments and interests and that it gave insufficiently reasons for its decision on many points. For that reason, and because no solution was reached in accordance with the court’s suggestion, the franchisees and their association have been forced to present the dispute to the Court of Appeal for assessment.