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Spar goes to court over price fixing

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Spar goes to court over price fixing
Spar headquarters. Photo: APA
11:01 CEST+02:00
The case against grocery retailer Spar, which is alleged to have been fixing prices with suppliers, opens today in Austria's Cartel Court.

The Austrian Federal Competition Authority (BWB) carried out raids in Spar's headquarters in January and August 2013.

It alleges that Spar made price-fixing agreements with its suppliers, particularly on beer and dairy products. Spar has said that talks with suppliers about prices are common in retail, and must be allowed.

The BWB says that producers and distributors are allowed to discuss the cost price, but not the final sale price.

Spar is the first food industry retailer in Austria to go to court over price fixing.

Other grocery retailers found to have been price fixing have agreed to pay a fine. Last year REWE paid €20.8 million. Breweries such as the Schloss Eggenberg Brewery, United Carinthian Breweries AG, Mohrenbrauerei and the private brewery Zwettl have all paid a fine of €417,000. 

Kärntnermilch was fined €375,000, and Berglandmilch, Emmi, Rieder Bier and Vorarlberger Mühlen collectively paid out €1.4 million.

Helmut Petschar, President of the Austrian Dairy Association (VÖM), eagerly awaits the judgement from the Cartel Court. 
 
"In recent years, opinions have differed as to what is allowed and what is not. Now it is important that companies get legal certainty," he told the Austrian Press Agency. 
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