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Croatian regulator fines Lidl's unit over unfair trade practices

Author Iskra Pavlova
Croatian regulator fines Lidl's unit over unfair trade practices Author: SeeNews. License: All rights reserved.

ZAGREB (Croatia), October 29 (SeeNews) - Croatia's anti-trust regulator, AZTN, said it has imposed an 807,500 kuna ($120,000/108,000 euro) fine to the local unit of German retailer Lidl due to unfair trade practices in its contracts with three local suppliers.

The fine was imposed after a probe against Lidl Croatia found that the retailer has misused its significant bargaining power by imposing unfair commercial practices in the contracts with the three suppliers, AZTN said in a statement on Monday.

AZTN also said it has issued a single conclusion since the three cases are identical.

In particular, the signed contracts do not specify what their duration is, which is a mandatory component under the law, AZTN says.

Moreover, Lidl Croatia has included in the contracts an additional quality assessment procedure, to be carried out upon Lidl's request and at a Lidl chosen laboratory, whose charges should be paid for by the supplier. AZTN has deemed this procedure as "completely unnecessary", considering the quality assessment procedure already included in the contracts and the fact that the suppliers are also obliged by Croatia's food act to carry out regular quality control checks since their products have a short shelf-life of six to nine months.

AZTN said that the violations of the anti-trust law took place between January 1, 2018 and July 26, 2019 and carry a fine of up to 3.5 million kuna.

The regulator has also given Lidl two months to submit annexes to the contracts, which clearly state their duration, as well as to delete or amend the provision which requires the supplier to pay for the additional quality control check required by Lidl.

Lidl, a member of Germany’s Schwarz Group, ranked the second largest retailer in Croatia in terms of market share in 2018, after local chain Konzum, AZTN has said.

(1 euro = 7.45336 kuna)