After mega deal now a mega fine: the French competition authority has fined several companies in the eyewear industry, including EssilorLuxottica, for unfairly controlling the prices that opticians could charge for their eyewear products or refusing to sell them online between 1999 and 2015. The group is now to pay 125 million euros, but intends to appeal.
The Paris-based competition authority Autorité de la Concurrence said it had fined Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, which merged with France’s Essilor in 2018, 125 million euros ($147.4 million) and Paris-based luxury goods group LVMH 500,000 euros. The latter fine was reduced after LVMH decided not to contest the allegations.
The allegations against Luxottica relate to all the brands it manufactures, including those of French fashion house Chanel SA. Chanel was fined 130,000 euros for refusing to sell its products online.
French eyewear manufacturer Groupe Logo, which made products from LVMH’s Tag Heuer brand, was also convicted of restricting retailers’ ability to set prices, but was not fined after deciding not to contest the charges. Groupe Logo was liquidated in 2016.
“These practices, which are anti-competitive by their very nature, are serious. In particular, they involved the implementation of monitoring and retaliation mechanisms,” the competition regulators said. The allegations relate to an investigation covering the entire period 1999 to 2015 at a number of companies in the eyewear industry.
EssilorLuxottica goes on appeal
EssilorLuxottica announced that it would appeal the French competition authority’s decision against Luxottica. It said it is confident of successfully demonstrating “that the decision is wrong from both a factual and legal perspective.”
Safilo, another company involved in the investigation, said it was pleased with the authority’s decision, which “dismissed all the allegations made against the company”.