Thursday, 20 April 2023

Press Release – Decision imposing afine of EUR 628.450 on a toy company, under the Settlement Procedure

Subject: Decision imposing a fine of EUR 628.450 on a toy companyfollowing the HCC’s ex officio investigation into the children’s toys market, with the exception of those related with the use of computers and computer software systems

By its unanimous Decision no 816/2023, the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC), in plenary, unanimously decided, under the simplified Settlement Procedure of Article 29A of the Greek Competition Act (Law 3959/2011) and according to its Decision no 790/2022, to accept the settlement proposals submitted by the company under the name GIOCHI PREZIOSI HELLAS S.A., following the relevant Statement of Objections, and imposed on the above company a reduced fine amounting to EUR 628.450 for the infringement of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011, established according to the grounds of the Decision.

In particular, the ex officio investigation was triggered by random checks of specific product codes with a higher demand (popularity), as recorded on the websites of toy retailers. For the purposes of this investigation, an on-site inspection was carried out at the premises of undertakings active at all levels of the relevant toy market, including GIOCHI PREZIOSI HELLAS S.A.

The party concerned, namely GIOCHI PREZIOSI HELLAS S.A, for which sufficient evidence establishing a violation of Article. 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU was collected, expressed in writing its interest in examining the possibility of itsplacement under the SP and submitted a relevant request, in accordance with para. 16 of HCC Decision no. 704/2020.

According to the grounds of the Decision, the evidence available shows that thecompany committed a single and continuous infringement, in terms of scope, targeting and time sequence as well as due to its products’ seasonal nature, byadopting a resale price maintenance practice, in the context of a vertical agreement, in the market for children's toys, with the exception of those related with the use ofcomputers and computer software systems, in breach of Articles 1 (1) of Law3959/2011 and 101 (1) TFEU, for a time period extending from 28.12.2017 to8.10.2021. Resale price maintenance is a hardcore restriction of competition by object and is considered, by its nature, capable of having an impact on the relevant market, as it weakens competition between resellers by eliminating intra-brand competition, while acting as a disincentive to reduce selling prices for the specific product. Τhe nature and content of the evidence in the case file, indicates that resale price maintenance for the products concerned was put into practice.

The HCC, in plenary, according to para. 35 of its Decision no 795/2022, decided toaccept, according to Statement of Objections of the case Rapporteur, the settlementproposal submitted by the above company and decided as follows: 

Finds that the company GIOCHI PREZIOSI HELLAS S.A., infringed Articles 1 of Law3959/2011 and 101 TFEU by participated in a prohibited vertical agreement through the practices described in the Statement of Objections submitted in the context of the Settlement Procedure.

Orders the above company to cease, if it has not already done so, and refrain in the future from the resale price maintenance practice, considered as a single and continuous infringement of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU, found in the Statement of Objections.

Imposes on GIOCHI PREZIOSI HELLAS S.A. a fine amounting to EUR 628,450 for the infringements of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU found in the Statement of Objections.

Finally, it is recalled that this decision is issued according to the above simplified Settlement Procedure, following the relevant expression of interest on the part of the company concerned and the subsequent unconditional admission of its participation in the infringement found.

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