The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined a lighting supplier for price fixing.
The National Lighting Company (NLC) was fined £2.7 million for imposing a minimum price on online sellers with its Endon and Saxby brands.
This is an illegal practice, known as resale price maintenance (RPM), and means that consumers miss out on the best possible prices and cannot shop around for a better deal on that supplier’s products.
The CMA claimed that the NLC tried to avoid detection by not committing these agreements to writing. The supplier has also received an extra penalty because it ignored an earlier warning letter from the CMA.
Although a warning letter is not a formal allegation the CMA warned that it must be taken seriously and requires a considered response.
The CMA revealed that it has recently sent a number of warning letters to other suppliers in the light fittings sector on grounds of suspected RPM.
Ann Pope, CMA senior director, Antitrust, commented: “This decision should act as a warning to companies that resale price maintenance is illegal and that warning letters issued by the CMA are to be taken seriously and not to be ignored.
“The digital economy is booming and with so many businesses operating online it is vital that fair competition is maintained across all sectors. The CMA wants to ensure consumers get a fair price and a good deal.
“That can only happen when retailers are free to set their own prices.”
The CMA has today re-issued its advice to help businesses stay on the right side of the law.