Sewing machines supplier STRIMA agreed with a settlement procedure and was thus imposed a lower fine for vertical agreements

2022-07-07
In its first-instance decision, the Office for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter referred to as “the Office”) imposed a fine of CZK 4 446 000 on STRIMA CZECH s.r.o. for entering into prohibited vertical agreements which distorted competition. The undertaking STRIMA CZECH s.r.o. (hereinafter referred to as “STRIMA”) took advantage of the settlement, for which the fine was reduced by 20%. No appeal was filed against the decision and it is now final.

According to the Office, STRIMA, a supplier of sewing machines (e.g. Janome, Texi, Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, Singer), in 2016 – 2020 set minimum or fixed retail prices for its customers, the retailers, at which they would sell the goods to end consumers. Compliance with these prices was monitored by STRIMA, and if a customer failed to comply, it was required to increase prices to at least the set level or otherwise threatened with sanctions. The prohibited resale price fixing agreements resulted in the raising price level for end consumers by restricting price competition between individual retailers.

Competition was distorted in the markets for household sewing machines and accessories in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. By the objected conduct, STRIMA infringed not only the prohibition set out in the Czech Competition Act but also the prohibition set out in the competition rules of the European Union.

When imposing the fine, the Office considered, as a mitigating factor, that the undertaking STRIMA voluntarily ceased the anticompetitive conduct, informed all its customers that the agreements in question were invalid and that the setting of the retail price is entirely at the discretion of the customers. The undertaking admitted to the anticompetitive conduct in the settlement procedure, for which the fine was reduced as indicated above.

 Press Unit of the Office for the Protection of Competition

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