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PN 80/02 26 November 2002
The OFT has issued a further notice to 10 companies saying that it proposes to make a decision that they have been fixing the price of Umbro replica football kits, infringing UK competition law.
In May this year the OFT issued a notice to 11 companies. Following representations including new evidence from them, the OFT has now put this new evidence to 10 of the companies and dropped its action against one of the companies - Debenhams plc.
The companies still concerned are: Umbro Holdings Limited, JJB Sports plc, John David Sports plc, Sports Soccer Limited, Allsports Limited, Blacks Leisure Group plc, Manchester United Football Club plc, Florence Clothiers (Scotland) Limited (trading as Sportsconnection), Sportsetail Limited and The Football Association Limited.
The supplementary Rule 14 notice (see note 2) sent to the companies today sets out additional evidence and reasons why the OFT proposes to find that they entered into a number of agreements to fix the price of football kits manufactured and supplied by Umbro, infringing Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998.
The parties now have a further opportunity to make oral and written representations in response to the OFT's proposed decision. These will be taken fully into account before any final decision is made.
1. Powers under the Competition Act 1998
The Act gives the Office of Fair Trading powers to investigate suspected infringements of the Act's prohibitions:
i) the Chapter I prohibition prohibits agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings or concerted practices which have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the UK (or any part of it) and which may affect trade within the UK (or any part of it); and
ii) the Chapter II prohibition prohibits conduct by one or more undertakings which amounts to the abuse of a dominant position in a market which may affect trade within the UK (or any part of it).
2. Rule 14 of the Competition Act 1998 (Director's rules) Order 2000 requires the OFT to provide a written notice to each person who the OFT considers is engaged in the conduct which has led to an infringement.
3. In this press release the functions of the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) under the Regulations are for simplicity described as the functions of 'the OFT'. The Enterprise Act will replace the office of the DGFT with the OFT, to which will be transferred the DGFT's functions.
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