Thursday, 04 August 2022 13:48

Press Release - Decision of the Hellenic Competition Commission to impose fines on companies for the sale / distribution of wristwatches

Subject: Decision of the Hellenic Competition Commission to impose fines totalling EUR 658.328,18 on six companies operating in the Greek market for the sale/ distribution of wristwatches for infringements of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and/ or 101 TFEU

Executive Summary

 With its Decision No. 757/2021, the Plenary Session of the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) imposed fines totalling EUR 658.328,18 on the following companies:

  • TIME CENTER SA;
  • AIKATERINI KANTZIKI-DIMITRIOS KOUTSIKOPOULOS IKE;
  • SHOP & TRADE SA;
  • SYMBOL HELLAS SA;
  • ORIS SA; and
  • AMER SPORTS EXPORT GMBH,

for infringing Articles 1 of Greek Law 3959/2011 (the Greek Competition Act) and/ or 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), on the market for the sale/ distribution of wristwatches in Greece.

The case concerns the examination of the complaint of the company KOSTARELOS SA against various importers/ distributors of wristwatches for infringements of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and/or 101 TFEU, and the related ex officio investigation by the HHC’s Directorate-General for Competition on the market for the sale and distribution of wristwatches into alleged infringing practices by undertakings on that market.

Procedure

In July 2017, the company KOSTARELOS SA lodged a complaint with the HCC against a number of companies active in the sale/distribution of wristwatches.

The HHC’s Directorate-General for Competition then launched an ex officio investigation into this sector by carrying out a series of investigative measures (including a number of dawn raids and requests for information). 

The Statement of Objections was notified to the companies under investigation and the complainant in December 2020. The hearing before the HCC Plenary took place in June and July 2021.

According to the Statement of Objections, in light of the evidence submitted by the complainant as well as the evidence collected in the course of dawn raids carried out by the HHC’s Directorate-General for Competition as well as from other measures of inquiry, it was established that the above-mentioned companies had adopted, at different intervals each during the period from 2011 until 2020, practices relating to:

  • resale price maintenance (RPM); and/or
  • restriction of parallel trade; and/or
  • restrictions on passive sales.

The Decision of the HCC

 

By its Decision No 757/2021, the Plenary Session of the HCC unanimously decided, following the relevant Statement of Objections, as follows:

  • With regard to the company TIME CENTER SA: Infringement of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011 and Article 101 TFEU for enforcing RPM practices and preventing parallel trade, for a period from 2012 until 2017, and imposition of a fine of EUR 183,154.11.
  • With regard to the company AIKATERINI KANTZIKI-DIMITRIOS KOUTSIKOPOULOS IKE: Infringement of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011 and Article 101 TFEU for enforcing RPM practices, while applying a mechanism for monitoring the fixed prices for a period from 2011 to 2017, and imposition of a fine of EUR 182,741.86.
  • With regard to the company SHOP & TRADE SA: Infringement of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011 and Article 101 TFEU for enforcing RPM practices, while applying a mechanism for monitoring the fixed prices for the period, for a period from 2016 to 2017, and imposition of a fine of EUR 21,899.79.
  • With regard to the company SYMBOL HELLAS SA: Infringement of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU for enforcing RPM practices, for a period from 2014 to 2016, and imposition of a fine of EUR 238,655.22.
  • With regard to the company ORIS SA: Infringement of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 and 101 TFEU for applying restriction on passive sales on resellers outside Greece and Cyprus, for a period from 2014 to 2021, and imposition of a fine of EUR 18,370.80.
  • With regard to the company AMER SPORTS EXPORT GMBH: Infringement of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011 and Article 101 TFEU for enforcing RPM practices, for a period from 2015 to 2017, and imposition of a fine of EUR 13,506.40.

Furthermore, the HCC ordered the above companies to put an end to the above infringements, in so far as they continue, and to omit them in the future, and threatened the companies with a fine in case the HCC decides in the future that the above-mentioned infringements continue or are repeated.

Moreover, as regards the company FOSSIL (EUROPE) GMBH, the HCC did not find an infringement of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011 or Article 101 TFEU. Finally, the HCC dismissed the complaint of KOSTARELOS SA as to its remainder, and in so far as it concerned the companies RIST HELLAS, DIESEL HELLAS, P. GKOGAS, THE SWATCH GROUP (GREECE), SWATCH GROUP LTD, APOSPORIS, CHRONORA KALLIGERIS, TAG HEUER HEADQUARTERS BRANCH OF LVMH SWISS MANUFACTURE SA, and LOTHMAN TRADING B.V.(OOZOO TIMEPIECES).

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