AdC issues Statement of Objections to supermarkets and Beiersdorf

Press Release 21/2020
AdC issues Statement of Objections to supermarkets and Beiersdorf
for price fixing, harmful to consumers
The AdC – Autoridade da Concorrência issued a Statement of Objections to the supermarket chains Modelo Continente, Pingo Doce and Auchan and the supplier of cosmetics and personal care products Beiersdorf of a practice equivalent to a cartel.
The investigation conducted by the AdC revealed that the mentioned supermarket chains used their commercial relationship with the supplier of cosmetics and personal care products - among which the Nivea, Harmony, Hansaplast and Labello brands - to align the retail prices of most of the latter’s products, to the detriment of consumers.
The Statement of Objections also includes one director of Beiersdorf.
The investigated practices took place between 2008 and 2017.
This is a practice harmful to consumers, which in competition terminology, is called a hub-and-spoke.
If confirmed, the practice is very serious, equivalent to a cartel, in which the large retail chains do not communicate directly with each other, but instead use bilateral contacts with the supplier to guarantee through the latter that they all practice the same retail price in the market.
On November 24, the AdC had already sent a Statement of Objections to the same three large retail distribution groups for the same practice with the supplier of alcoholic beverages Active Brands.
The Statement of Objections now issued adds to the six cases for which Statements of Objections were adopted in March 2019, as well as in June and July 2020.
The AdC is currently pursuing more than ten investigations in the large food retail chains sector, some of which are still subject to investigative secrecy.
AdC considers the large retail distribution sector a priority, bearing in mind the importance it holds for most Portuguese consumers and for the daily supply of families.
The AdC emphasizes that issuing a Statement of Objections does not determine the final outcome of the investigation.  At this stage of the procedure, the undertakings are given the opportunity to exercise their rights of defence against the alleged infringements and possible applicable sanctions.
The Statement of Objections was issued on December 2, 2020.
December 9, 2020