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Spar investigation continues

The Federal Competition Authority is continuing its investigations at the Spar Group’s headquarters in Salzburg-Taxham, presumably until 6 February. The company is under suspicion of price fixing.

Ten employees of the Federal Competition Authority and the police started to secure documents and computer data last Wednesday.  This will be evaluated in the following weeks and months.

Spar is suspected of having made vertical agreements between wholesalers and distributors. Veronika Haubner, spokesperson for the Federal Competition Authority, said it is possible that Spar has also made horizontal agreements with other wholesalers.

Both agreements increase the profit of the parties involved, but are at the expense of customers and companies that stick to the rules.

In the meantime, Spar management have displayed a relaxed attitude towards the searches. Nicole Berkmann, a Spar spokesperson, believes that the search is one of the many normal examinations conducted by the Authority each year. Spar is, however, taking it as a serious matter. Berkmann said that it would be the first house search in Spar Austria’s history.

Together with its competitors REWE and Hofer, Spar controls three quartes of the grocery market of Austria. The Federal Competition Authority also conducted house searches at REWE and at the supermarket chain M-Preis in Tyrol last year.

The longest house search took place at REWE in February/March 2012. REWE accused the Authority of prejudice and damage to their reputation. The Authority claimed that employees "acted agressively" during the eight days of search.

Up to now, the Authority has not revealed the results of that search.

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