Three hypermarket chains and 4 suppliers were fined by the Competition Council (CC) RON 87,713,336 (approx. EUR 18.8 million) for violating the regulations concerning prices.
“The sanctions were enforced within the investigation concerning price rigging by Auchan, Cora and Carrefour and their suppliers during 2010-2015. Following the investigation sanctions were applied for violating the national regulations and the European regulations regarding competition, for price rigging for resale during the retailers’ promotions,” a CC release on Thursday reads.
CC representatives say they’ve found out that in certain cases the sale prices were not set according to the market rules of offer and demand, but the supplier and the retailer agreed upon a fix or minimum price for resale to the final consumer, ziare.com reports.
The Competition Council says such practices lead to higher prices for the final consumer, as the retailer is not allowed to cut the price below the limit set in line with the supplier.
The sanctioned companies:
- Auchan Romania SA – RON 36,563,004 (EUR 7.84 million);
- Carrefour Romania SA – RON 26,995,645 (EUR 5.79 million)
- Romania Hypermarche (Cora) SA – RON 12,410,834 (EUR 2.66 million)
- Quadrant-Amroq Beverages SRL – RON 5,984,053 (EUR 1.28 million)
- Star Foods EM SRL – RON 3,930,920 (EUR 843,599)
- Strauss Romania SRL – RON 1,785,767 (EUR 383,236)
- Nelson Prod SRL – RON 43,113 (EUR 9,252).
Carrefour admitted to the offense and benefited from a cut in the fine.
This is second investigation of this kind. In 2015, the Competition Council sanctioned Metro, Real, Selgros, Mega Image and their suppliers by fines amounting to approx. EUR 35 million for price rigging during 2005-2009.
‘Cora’ representatives reject charges
The representatives of Romania Hypermarche (Cora) categorically reject the charges of price fixing (rigging) for certain goods and say that as soon as they receive the reasoning will challenge the decision in court, a release on Thursday reads.
“Romania Hypermarche (Cora) has learned about the decision made by the Competition Council to fine the company by RON 12,410,834 (EUR 2.66 million) along with other market chains and suppliers on the retail market. Now Cora awaits the reasoning from the Council to analyse the arguments and reserves the right to challenge the decision in court. We categorically reject the arguments brought by the Competition Council, which made the decision without any minimum economic analysis. (…) The charges are based exclusively on presumptions unsupported by evidence. The file presents no proof to reveal that our company allegedly had an anti-competitive behavior, as the Competition Council claims,” the release reads.
The company argues that had submitted to the CC countless documents which reveal ‘without doubt’ that the investigated situations had no previous anti-competition understanding between Core and its suppliers on rigging the sale price of certain goods.