Without regulations specifically for them, brand centres or factory stores must meet installation and/or functioning conditions. These are more or less strict depending on the country. For instance, in the European Union countries fall into two different categories: those where the projects to set up new outlets or to extend existing outlets are subject to a specific authorisation (case of France), independent of the building permit, and those, fewer in number, where the projects depend solely on the issue of the building permit (case of the United Kingdom).
The setting up of brand centres must comply with requirements defined, on the one hand by the federal law on territorial planning and the series of laws relating to construction and, on the other hand, by development programmes for the LÃ¤nder. The main goal is to ensure sustainable development of the territory, combining socio-economic requirements with ecological stability.
Advertising rules are applicable for all direct sales from factories to consumers. In addition, as regards the running of the company, rules on opening hours and price display are identical to those applicable to any sales establishment.
The legislation applicable to factory stores is the law of 29 June 1975. This law specifies that an authorisation must be obtained for any opening of a new store or extension of an existing store. It divides the Belgium territory into 2 areas (urban and rural) and, based on this distinction, entrepreneurs may or may not need to obtain a socio-economic permit for their project.
For rural areas, a permit is needed for all commercial areas exceeding 750mÂ² of commercial floor area and /or 1 000 mÂ² of gross built area. For urban areas, the same permit is necessary when the net commercial area exceeds 1500 mÂ² and/or when the gross built area exceeds 3 000 mÂ². The decision to issue or otherwise a permit can take more than 6 years.
The procedure put in place by the Law of 1975 on commercial establishments only provides for recourse in the event that the ComitÃ© socio-Ã©conomique pour la Distribution [Socio-Economic Committee for Distribution] issues a favourable or partly favourable opinion on a file. The recourse files are then examined by the National Commission and the Interministerial Committee for Distribution.
The law of 15 January 1996 introduced certain rules with the aim of making the commercial sector more stable. Like France, the Spanish government had implemented drastic measures to freeze the progress of modern commerce.
Current regulations are more consensual. It is the independent communities that are responsible for their application. Consequently, town councillors play a major role in commercial urbanism.
The opening of large retail centres is more strictly controlled by the Raffarin Law of 5 July 1996, including the concept of factory store. An authorisation is required for the installation of any retail outlet with a sales area exceeding 300 mÂ² and extensions of stores when their total area exceeds 300 mÂ².
Applications are examined by the CDEC (Commission DÃ©partementale d’Equipement Commercial or Departmental Commission for Commercial Installations, composed of 7 members of whom the Prefect who chairs the Commission). The Commission has four months to rule on the file. In this way the project can be authorised in full, in part or refused. In the case of dispute of the decision, an appeal procedure can be launched within two months by the Prefect of the dÃ©partement or at least two members of the CDEC, with the CNEC (Commission Nationale d’Equipement Commercial - National Commission for Commercial Installations). This Commission is composed of four high government officials and four key figures competent in the field of territorial development or distribution, all appointed by the Minister for Commerce for six years. The CNEC also has four months to rule. Finally, a last appeal is possible to the Conseil d’Etat.
According to the law of 20 August 1997, it is compulsory to obtain an installation authorisation for large commercial units. As regards the installation of a brand centre, the threshold is fixed at 20000 mÂ². The request is filed with the General Division for Competition and Consumption (DGCC). The authorisation by the Ministry of the Economy is only granted if the brand centre’s market share on the territory (mainland) is less than 15 %. Then the start-up of activity is subject to a functioning authorisation issued by the DGCC which checks whether the general conditions are fulfilled.