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School bag cartel: AFCA files another application to have a company fined

On 26 April 2022 the AFCA filed an application with the Cartel Court requesting that a company be fined for an infringement of Article 101 TFEU and § 1 para. 1 of the Federal Cartel Act (KartG).

AFCA investigations

In 2019 and 2020 the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) conducted investigations into a manufacturer of school bags and backpacks, as well as into some retailers, in response to alleged vertical price fixing.

The AFCA had initiated official investigations after having received complaints from consumers that pointed to alleged infringements of cartel law. The Cartel Court had already fined a manufacturer in July 2021 upon an application from the AFCA. Following an application filed in January 2022, this is now the second application for a retailer to be fined (see also AFCA’s press releases of 29 July 2021 and 13 January 2022).

This company’s alleged anti-competitive conduct occurred during the period from February 2015 to February 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.

Acknowledgement by company

The company has acknowledged the infringement, necessitating less complex proceedings and allowing a reduction in the requested fine.