Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

STORES ARE FINED U22m FOR PRICE FIX; Littlewoods and Argos in Toys Scandal

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

STORES ARE FINED U22m FOR PRICE FIX; Littlewoods and Argos in Toys Scandal

Article excerpt

Byline: FIONA WALSH

TWO of Britain's largest retailers were today fined a record u22.5 million for fixing the price of toys and games.

The Office of Fair Trading said it had fined Argos u17.28 million and Littlewoods u5.37 million for being in breach of the Competition Act.

John Vickers, the OFT's director general, said: "Price-fixing is a serious breach of the Competition Act as the fines imposed in this case reflect."

They are the highest-ever fines imposed and their size reflects the level of sales at the two retailers.

Shares in GUS, which owns catalogue showrooms chain Argos, fell 1.5p to 512.5p. Department stores group Littlewoodsis privately owned and was bought out from the founding Moores family last year, in a u750 million deal, by the reclusive Monaco-based Barclay brothers, who also own the Scotsman newspaper.

Manufacturers are allowed to recommend prices, but they are not allowed to insist on them. The fines follow the tougher new laws introduced in the 2000 Competition Act. …

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