Are data a source of unassailable competitive advantage in retailing? 17.05.22

The role of data as a source of competitive advantage has emerged as a key competition issue. In particular, very general concerns have been voiced regarding the competition implications of some digital platforms having superior access to data. Against this background, Benoît Durand and Iestyn Williams investigate the extent to which these general concerns are likely to apply to the retail sector specifically. Different retailers have different uses for data, and different data needs, depending on their business models and commercial strategies. Crucially, data analytics are not an end in themselves in retailing. Moreover, many other factors affect retail success. Any assessment of the competitive effects of data in a retail setting must, therefore, involve a holistic appraisal of the different aspects of retail competition, whether data-driven or not.

Durand and Williams – Are data a source of unassailable competitive advantage in retailing – May 2022


Paula Mäkelä joins RBB Economics 07.04.22

We are pleased to announce that Paula Mäkelä joins RBB as an Associate Principal. Paula was previously a Principal Economist at the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. Paula will initially spend time in Brussels before returning to Helsinki to continue RBB’s expansion in Finland.

Simon Bishop, Founder and Managing Partner of RBB Economics said: “We are delighted to welcome Paula to the firm. She brings excellent economic skills and an on the ground presence in Finland.”


Etienne Pfister joins RBB Economics 23.03.22

We are pleased to announce that Etienne Pfister joins RBB Economics as a Partner in our Paris office. Etienne was previously Chief Economist of the French Competition Authority.

Simon Bishop, Founder and Managing Partner of RBB Economics said: “Etienne is a natural fit for RBB. He is an excellent economist with a wealth of experience of providing economic advice on competition matters in France. Etienne will undoubtedly assist in accelerating the continued growth of our Paris office.”


RBB Economics celebrates its 20th anniversary 21.03.22


This week 20 years ago, RBB Economics opened its first (tiny) office in London, followed shortly after with an office (also tiny) in Brussels.  Many in the competition law world thought we would quickly fail and indeed the founders themselves had doubts.

But RBB didn’t fail.  Indeed, to say that RBB exceeded all expectations is an understatement.  From that modest start, the firm now has over 170 staff working from 9 offices in Europe, Australia and South Africa.  We work on the highest profile matters and we are seen as preeminent experts in the field of competition economics in each of the geographic markets in which we operate.

We would like to thank all those of you who have placed your trust in our abilities over the years, either by retaining us directly or by recommending us to your clients.  Without that trust, RBB Economics would not be where it is today.  We will continue to strive to deliver on that trust and, in so doing, ensure that the foundations established over the last 20 years provide a good platform for the next 20 years.


CMA clears Sony music merger 16.03.22

On 16 March the CMA cleared Sony Music Entertainment’s acquisition of artist & label (A&L) service provider AWAL without remedies, following an in-depth phase II inquiry.

The CMA’s investigation focused on so-called “killer acquisition” theories of harm, examining the possibility that AWAL’s A&L business serving smaller artists may, absent the transaction, have expanded into competing with Sony for high profile artists. The CMA also considered the possibility that Sony’s The Orchard A&L business may, absent the transaction, have expanded to become an important rival to AWAL.

The CMA ultimately found that the parties do not compete closely at present, and that a large number of rivals are active in the A&L segment and as well placed to compete in the future as AWAL and The Orchard.

RBB, working alongside Cleary Gottlieb, advised Sony throughout the CMA’s investigation.