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‘Municipal subsidiary must close online store’

The ‘Freien Demokraten’ from the city counsil of the German city Wuppertal asked for the Wuppertaler Stadtwerke, the city’s municipal utility, to stop its online store in which it sells household appliances and energy-saving lamps. The ecommerce site is said to hurt the local retail industry.


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“It’s not up to a municipal daughter company such as the Wuppertaler Stadtwerke to make the retail industry in Wuppertal its competitor”, says Alexander Schmidt, who is the chairman of the Free Democratic Party. “As part of an energy advice, for us it’s quite conceivable that the WSW issues a list that recommends energy-saving products to its customers. We can also imagine that the WSW has strong buy recommendations, but then please do it with a clear reference to local retailers, where consumers can purchase the products that are listed”, he suggests.

The online shop of Wuppertaler Stadtwerke.
The online shop of Wuppertaler Stadtwerke.

‘No local responsibility’
The liberal party has also criticized the cooperation of WSW with Grünspar GmbH from Münster for their online offer. “The WSW always points out they are a local supplier and thus create and secure jobs and traineeships in this city”, Schmidt says. “But if on the one hand you want to convince customers from your local responsibility, on the other hand it just doesn’t fit to offer products from a provider from Münster, you are competing with retailers from Wuppertal.”

According to Manfred Todtenhausen, vice-chairman of the FDP, the WSW approach could also be counterproductive for the municipal utility. “Which retailer wants to obtain their electricity and gas from a competitor? I could imagine some companies would switch from supplier and as result act less locally oriented.”