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Federal court ruling: Bakeries allowed to sell bread rolls all day on Sundays

Federal court ruling : Bakeries allowed to sell bread rolls all day on Sundays

Customers can now take their time buying their Sunday bread rolls. While hours used to be limited on Sundays, a federal court ruling now allows for all day sales, provided certain stipulations are met.

Customers can take their time buying their Sunday bread rolls in the future. According to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), the highest German court, bakeries are allowed to sell rolls outside the stipulated opening hours - but only in branches where the counter sales are combined with a café. The court determined that such bakery/cafes can be counted as restaurants.

The Wettbewerbszentrale, which is the central office for the protection against unfair competition, had observed infringements at various bakeries. It decided to get clarification on the matter once and for all, suing the Bavarian bakery chain Ratschiller.

"It's absolute nonsense that we want to ban someone from buying Sunday bread rolls," says Andreas Ottofülling from the Munich office of competition protection. Sunday has become one of the strongest sales days in the bakery industry. "All the more reason for equal market conditions to prevail here".

How long bakeries are allowed to sell their rolls on Sundays varies from state to state. The most generous regulations are in Berlin, where bakeries are allowed to open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for up to nine hours. Only three hours are allowed in Bavaria.

The Wettbewerbszentrale had recorded infringements of the current laws by Ratschiller on a Sunday in February of 2016 and in March of 2018. But in both of the bakeries cited, there were also tables and chairs for customers. The Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Munich ruled that they could be viewed as restaurants, and be allowed to sell “prepared foods” for immediate consumption outside of the prescribed limited opening hours.

The argument from the Wettbewerbszentrale was: "The bare bread roll is not prepared food, nobody pushes five dry rolls down their throats on their way home and nibbles on a loaf of bread," according to Andreas Ottofülling of the Munich office. But the BGH had no problems with this. Bread and rolls are made from flour, water, yeast and salt and then baked, said the presiding judge Thomas Koch at the pronouncement of the verdict. This makes "ready-to-eat food".

Ratschiller is relieved. "As a mere baker, we could no longer survive these days," says managing director Bernhard Auracher. "You just have to keep up with the times." Sunday is the only day when families still have time for breakfast together. "I don't want to limit them to getting their rolls in the morning at seven or eight or ten o'clock." It just means the customers would quickly go to the gas station and get their rolls there. With the ruling, it looks like smaller bakeries would only need to set up a few tables and chairs in order to sell their bread wares longer.

Orig. text: Anja Semmelroch, dpa

Translation/Zusammenfassung: ck