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Portugal sanctions three supermarket chains

Christian Fernsby |
The Portuguese Competition Authority (AdC) has sanctioned three supermarket chains Auchan, Modelo Continente and Pingo Doce as well as the common supplier Bimbo Donuts for having participated in a scheme of price fixing on retail prices.

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This practice is highly damaging to consumers and affects the generality of the Portuguese population, since the business groups involved represent a large part of the national market of large retail distribution of food products.

Through contacts established through the common supplier, without the need to communicate directly with each other, the participating distribution companies ensure the alignment of the retail prices in their supermarkets, in 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, ensuring better levels of profitability for the entire distribution chain, including supplier and supermarket chains.

In December 2020 and recently, on November 2, 2021, the AdC had already sentenced these and three other supermarket chains and three beverage suppliers, Sociedade Central de Cervejas, Primedrinks and Super Bock, for the same type of practice.

In the current case, the AdC investigation determined that the practice lasted for at least eleven years - between 2005 and 2016, and targeted several Bimbo Donuts products, such as packaged bread, Donuts, Bollycao or Manhãzitos.

In the decision now adopted, the AdC imposed the immediate cessation of the practice, as it cannot be excluded that the investigated behavior is still ongoing.

The sanction now decided resulted in a total fine of €24 691 000.

The total fine is applied as follows:

• Auchan Retail Portugal - €2 981 000
• Bimbo Donuts - €7 353 000
• Modelo Continente Hipermercados - €7 161 000
• Pingo Doce Distribuição Alimentar - €7 196 000

November 22, 2021

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