A British agency said on Friday it has levied fines totalling 225 million pounds ($347 million) against two tobacco manufactures and 10 retailers for unlawful pricing.
The Office of Fair Trading said that the two manufactures, Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher, had a series of arrangements with retailers to link tobacco prices to competitors’ brands.
The retailers were Asda, a subsidiary of Wal—Mart, the Co—operative Group, First Quench, Morrisons supermarkets, One Stop Stores, Safeway (now part of Morrisons), Sainsbury’s supermarkets, Shell, Somerfield and TM Retail.
The fines related to pricing policies between 2001 and 2003, the agency said.
“Practices such as these, which restrict the ability of retailers to set their resale prices for competing brands independently, are unlawful. They can lead to reduced competition and ultimately disadvantage consumers,” said OFT official Simon Williams.