The Chairman of the Office confirmed that RITCHY EU concluded prohibited anticompetitive agreements

2021-02-02
Petr Mlsna, the Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition, entirely dismissed the appeal filed by RITCHY EU s. r. o., and upheld the first-instance decision of the Office which imposed the fine amounting to CZK 6,674,000 on the above-mentioned undertaking for a prohibited anticompetitive resale price maintenance agreement. The decision also imposed a ban on the future performance of the anticompetitive agreement.

RITCHY EU is a distributor of electronic cigarettes and fillings therefor. According to the decision, within the period between 6 September 2017 and 31 March 2019 the undertaking determined the level of the lowest prices for which its goods should be sold by its customers and thus infringed the Act on the Protection of Competition as well as the EU competition rules. The undertaking monitored that the customers, i.e. retailers, comply with the determined minimum prices; non-compliance with this rule led to the termination of cooperation.

The illegal conduct of RITCHY EU distorted the competition in the relevant market of the electronic cigarettes and fillings thereof within the territory of the Czech Republic. The prohibited agreements potentially affected trade between Member states of the EU. The conduct of RITCHY EU resulted in the unification of (the higher) buying prices at wholesale/retail level and in higher retail prices for consumers.

According to the Chairman, the Office correctly concluded that RITCHY EU breached not only the Act on the Protection of Competition, but the Article 101 of the TFEU as well. The Chairman rejected the objections of the company concerning incorrect definition of relevant markets and market shares of RITCHY EU, as well as objections against finding of facts and amount of the fine, as unfounded.

Press Unit of the Office

21/018 – R0158/2020

 

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