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Competition & EU law insights

Keeping you up to date on Competition & EU law developments in Europe and beyond.

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Finland: Cosmetic product importers committed to anticompetitive price cooperation

For the first time in Finland, according to a press release by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), the FCCA published a decision confirming a competition infringement without proposing to issue a fine to the parties involved. In April 2024 FCCA published a decision concerning the anticompetitive actions in the sale of cosmetics by two importers in Finland. The FCCA initiated the investigations based on a leniency application made by the other importer referred to above. The FCCA found that the parties violated competition law by agreeing on the retail prices, product range, and monthly promotional prices for products by one cosmetics brand in Finland during 2017–2020. The cooperation involved regular communication and planning, for example joint flyers.

Since early 2017, the parties established a consistent routine for negotiating product sales, setting product range, and determining retail prices. From 2017 to 2020, the importers frequently coordinated monthly promotional campaigns, offering discounted products. They collaborated on selecting products for future 6–8-month promotional periods, communicating these choices to the manufacturer well in advance. Negotiations for monthly promotional products took place between May 2017 and October 2020, dictating promotions until July 2021. Additionally, importers agreed on promotional product prices during brochure preparation, with alternating responsibilities monthly.

The FCCA found that the collaboration restricted competition by object as the procedure involved setting recommended retail and promotional prices between competitors for all products by the cosmetics brand in question, as well as determining the product range for companies importing said products. The FCCA stated that the behaviour addressed in the decision, when objectively assessed, appears to have no purpose other than to restrict or eliminate competition among importers of products by the cosmetics brand.

Despite the competition restriction by object, the FCCA did not make a proposal for fines to the market court. The competition restriction had a negligible impact on the national economy, the parties had a limited ability to affect inter-brand competition in the relevant markets due to the small market share of the cosmetics brand in question, and the parties’ low turnovers. Thus, a decision confirming the existence of the competition restriction was sufficient to ensure effective intervention in the competition restriction and there was no justification for proposing fines under the Competition Act.

For more information or further guidance in this area, please contact Petteri Metsä-Tokila or Maria Karpathakis



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