Toy maker accused of price-fixing

22 May 2002
More legal news

23 May 2002 | David Arminas

Toy maker Hasbro and 12 of its UK distributors have until mid-July to convince the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that there are no grounds for its provisional finding of retail price-fixing.

If found guilty, the companies, including Littlewoods and Argos, face heavy fines in the OFT’s first investigation into the toy industry.

An OFT spokesman said its decision to call the firms to explain themselves comes after a year-long OFT investigation. It was instigated following a complaint from a retailer.

Details of the allegation have not been made public.

He said: “It’s a provisional finding. They now have six weeks to reply in writing and a further two weeks for verbal presentation. We expect a decision in three to four months from now.”

The Competition Act, which came into force in March 2000, allows for a maximum fine of 10 per cent of UK turnover for up to three years. Analysts believe Hasbro could be fined up to £26 million if found guilty.

The distributors are also liable for similarly calculated fines, according to the OFT.

However, there is provision for deferment of up to 100 per cent of a fine if a company comes forward with information.

• The OFT says it believes the Football Association and 10 firms have been fixing prices of football kits made by Umbro.

The companies, including Manchester United football club, Debenhams and Umbro Holdings, must make presentations to the OFT. It will make a ruling in the autumn.

SMmay2002

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