Mariage Frères: the luxury tea brand receives 4 million euros in fines

by time news

2023-12-11 23:32:36

Conditions of sale deemed unfair. The Competition Authority announced on Monday that it had imposed a financial penalty of 4 million euros on the Mariage Frères group for cartel practices in the luxury tea sector.

The Mariage Frères group, one of the main producers of high-end teas in France, has “impeded, for nearly 15 years, the commercial freedom of its distributors by prohibiting them, on the one hand, from selling the products online of its brand, and, on the other hand, to resell its products to other resellers,” underlines the Authority in a press release.

“These practices, which have limited intra-brand competition and partitioned markets, constitute a cartel,” believes the competition watchdog.

This double ban has appeared since July 2008 in the general conditions of sale (CGV) applicable to the Mariage Frères distribution network.

Limited sales at distributors

Distributors could indicate on their website that they were selling products from the Mariage Frères group in their store, but they could neither sell them on the Internet nor use the brand’s logo.

“Many distributors, often small, or even very small, companies, suffered from this ban, which hampered the development of their activity,” notes the Competition Authority. “At the same time, between 2013 and 2021, (…) the share of sales made online by the Mariage Frères group (for the most part, via its site or via Amazon) has more than tripled,” it is added.

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“By combining this practice with the ban on reselling to other distributors, Mariage Frères has, moreover, deprived end consumers of the possibility of benefiting from better prices resulting from effective competition between all distributors,” considers the ‘Authority.

In its decision, the competition watchdog takes into account the “particularly long period of fourteen years and six months” during which these practices “persisted”, until the notification of grievances to the Mariage Frères group on January 24, 2023.

The sanction of four million euros was imposed jointly and severally on the company Mariage Frères International SAS, which manages the group’s wholesale activity, and on its parent company, Mariage Frères SAS. The decision is subject to appeal.

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