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AdC fines three supermarket chains and a product supplier for price fixing


AdC fines three supermarket chains and a product supplier for price fixing

fila de supermercado com produtos femininos

Press release 04/2023

April 26, 2023

The decision
The AdC has imposed fines to three supermarket chains - Auchan, Modelo Continente and Pingo Doce - as well as to the joint supplier of beauty, cosmetics, and personal care products, JNTL Consumer Health Portugal, for having participated in a consumer price fixing scheme (PVP) of the supplier's products.
The investigation conducted by AdC found that the participating distribution companies adopted behaviours with the purpose of fixing retail prices in their supermarkets, softening competition, through contacts established through the common supplier, without the need to communicate directly with each other.
This is a conspiracy equivalent to a cartel, known in competition law terminology as hub-and-spoke.
Such a practice eliminates competition, depriving consumers of the option of better prices but ensuring better levels of profitability for the entire distribution chain, including supplier and supermarket chains.
More information about the case is available on the AdC website.

On March 15, 2022, the AdC adopted the Statement of Objections  in this case, and subsequently gave all companies the opportunity to exercise their rights of hearing and defence, which was duly considered in the final decision.
In the present case, the AdC determined that the practice lasted for more than fifteen years - between 2001 and 2016 - and targeted several products of the supplier from the cosmetics and personal hygiene areas, such as tampons, shampoos, absorbent pads and mouthwash for daily use.
Since 2020, the AdC has triggered more than a dozen proceedings resulting in fines imposed on six supermarket chains and ten suppliers for the anti-competitive practice of hub-and-spoke.

The fines
A total fine of €16,900,000 was imposed for this infringement.
The total fines were imposed as follows:

JNTL Consumer Health Portugal


Auchan Retail Portugal


Modelo Continente Hipermercados 


Pingo Doce – Distirbuição Alimentar


The fines imposed by the AdC are determined by the turnover of the companies sanctioned in the affected markets in the years of the practice. In addition, according to the Competition Law, fines cannot exceed 10% of the companies' turnover in the year prior to the sanction decision.
When setting the fines, the AdC takes into account the seriousness and duration of the infringement, the degree of participation of the undertakings in the infringement, the economic situation of the undertakings, among other circumstances, in accordance with international best practices (see AdC’s Guidelines on the methodology to be applied when applying fines).
The AdC's sanctioning decisions may be appealed. The appeal does not suspend the enforcement of fines. Undertakings may request the Competition, Regulation and Supervision Tribunal to suspend the enforcement of the decisions if (i) they demonstrate that the decisions cause them considerable damage and (ii) they offer an effective guarantee in its place.
For further information see "Questions and Answers on Press release 22/2020".