So far this year Miele, SH White Goods and Unilever have fallen foul of Denmark’s Competition and Consumer Authority’s (“DCCA”) enforcement efforts against retail price maintenance (RPM). On October 30, 2013, fashion brand Vila joined them. Vila and the DCCA reached a DKK 1.6 million settlement after finding that Vila infringed Section 6 of the Danish Competition Act by imposing a minimum resale price on some of its distributors. The DCCA also fined two Vila executives DKK 22,000 each after proving that they were aware of the illegal practice but had “failed to stop it”, and that one of those executives had facilitated the arrangement.
The DCCA opened its investigation into Vila’s practices following a TV broadcast indicating that Vila imposed minimum resale prices on some of its distributors. The DCCA conducted a dawn raid which confirmed the allegations: for 2,5 years prior to October 2012, Vila asked some of its distributors to charge consumers the company’s recommended retail prices as a minimum resale price. When presented with the evidence, Vila decided to cooperate.
When determining the amount of the fines the DCCA took into the following elements in account:
- the gravity of the infringement;
- the size of the company’s turnover;
- the duration of the infringement; and
- Vila’s and its executives’ cooperation with the Authority.
Had Vila’s infringement run through beyond March 2013, it would have been sanctioned under the new Danish competition law, which increases the maximum penalty for serious infringements such as RPM from DKK 15 million to DKK 20 million.