Several Belgian supermarket chains and a number of cosmetics manufacturers have signed a transaction declaration presented by the Investigation and Prosecution Office of the Belgian Competition Authority. In it, they accept having breached legislation on competitiveness from 2002 to 2007.
Fines up to 36 million euro
Drugstore, perfumery and hygiene products were the basis of the abuse as prices for brand products were raised and matched during the 2002-2007 time frame. Manufacturers were the middle man in this construction.
At 36.4 million euro, Carrefour has to pay the largest fine, but Delhaize, Cora, Intermarché, Makro and Mestdagh also have to pay fines from 1.7 million to 24.9 million euro. Among the manufacturers, Procter & Gamble has to pay the largest fine: 29 million euro. Colgate-Palmolive, which was the whistle blower in 2007, will not have to pay any fine.
"No price arrangements"
Colruyt publicly declared it has also signed the transaction declaration and that it will accept a 31.6 million euro fine, which will impact its net result in fiscal year 2014/2015. It does add it had not made any price arrangements with distributors nor suppliers.
"We have to admit that our internal control mechanisms were not as refined over a decade ago as they are today, not in such a way that we can guarantee 100 % that no one could provide external pressure to the autonomous approach of our pricing department", Frans Colruyt, Colruyt group's COO Retail, said. "We would like to emphasize that our pricing department has always made sure that Colruyt lives up to its lowest price guarantee."
He also added that the company has given the investigation its fullest support, ever since its launch in 2007. Signing the transaction declaration means Colruyt will not face any long court battle.