Bamix distributor fined $280,000 for price fixing

By Adam Coleman

ADELAIDE: Cambur Industries, the sole Australian distributor of Bamix and Magimix branded kitchen products, including the dual branded Nespresso/Magimix coffee making machines, has been fined $280,000 for engaging in resale price maintenance. 

Following action taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in September 2005, a Cambur sales and marketing manager, John (Sean) Caulfield, admitted he was directly and knowingly involved in each and every contravention by Cambur and was fined $32,000.

The penalties were imposed today by Justice Besanko of the Federal Court, Adelaide.

Cambur had earlier admitted to the court that in its dealings with two Adelaide-based authorised stockists, it had breached section 48 of the Trade Practices Act, by inducing or attempting to induce the stockists not to sell and advertise Cambur products at prices less than prices specified by Cambur.

The company also made it known to stockists that it would cease to supply Cambur products unless the stockists agreed not to sell and advertise its products at prices less than those specified by the company.

Cambur was also found guilty of using statements of prices to stockists suggesting the prices below which Cambur products were not to be sold or advertised.

Cambur also admitted that in its dealings with one of the stockists, it engaged in resale price maintenance by withholding supply of its products because the stockist had sold and advertised Cambur products at prices less than prices it specified. 

In submissions to the court, Cambur advised it had since written to its authorised stockists to inform them that it had engaged in unlawful conduct and that they were at liberty to make their own decisions on whether to discount products.

Given that Cambur had already implemented a trade practices compliance program, Justice Besanko accepted an undertaking in relation to that program.  He also ordered Cambur to pay the ACCC’s costs, as agreed or taxed.

“Suppliers cannot seek to build brand value by imposing a minimum retail price for goods they have supplied – that is a decision for the retailer,” said ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel. 

“Imposing such minimum retail prices prevents consumers from obtaining lower prices that may otherwise be available through competition.”

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