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AFCA files application to impose a fine on school bag retailer

On 13 January 2022 the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) filed an application with the Cartel Court to fine a company for an infringement of Article 101 TFEU and § 1 para. 1 of the Austrian Cartel Act.

AFCA investigations

In 2019 and 2020 the AFCA conducted investigations against a manufacturer of school bags and backpacks, as well as some retailers, into alleged vertical price fixing.

The AFCA initiated official investigations after having received complaints from consumers pointing to alleged infringements of cartel law. The Cartel Court had previously granted an AFCA application and fined a manufacturer in July 2021. Now the Authority is also filing an application for a retailer to be fined.

The company’s alleged anti-competitive conduct occurred during the period from February 2016 to March 2019, with agreements being reached with manufacturers of school bags and backpacks to adhere to certain sales prices. Manufacturers imposed prices on the retailer, despite referring to them as recommended retail prices, which the retailer subsequently adhered to.

Leniency – Application for lower fine

Owing to the company’s full cooperation in the leniency programme, the AFCA applied to the Cartel Court for a reduced fine. The company has acknowledged the infringement.