Narta called out by ACCC for attempts to fix prices

By Claire Reilly

Narta has come under fire from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with the watchdog putting forward a draft decision preventing Narta from fixing prices for its member retailers.

According to a statement released by the ACCC, Narta had “proposed arrangements that would enable it to set a minimum advertising price on a wide range of electrical goods” sold at its member stores. This would ensure that Narta’s entire group of retailers – which includes members such as Betta Home Living, Bing Lee and recent acquisition Myer – would be able to advertise the same set price on electrical goods.

These electrical goods could include new release and premium products as well as Beko-branded home appliances or exclusive product lines.

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“The ACCC has concerns that the ability for Narta to set a minimum advertising price on a broad range of electrical goods will reduce competition between retailers and result in higher prices for consumers,” said ACCC chairman, Rod Sims.

“This is particularly a concern for competition with online retailers, which generally do not negotiate their selling prices down from the advertised price like bricks and mortar retailers might do.”

In September 2012, Narta lodged an application for authorisation to set prices for its members “from time to time”. According to an application notice filed on the ACCC website, Narta would be able to “impose a minimum advertising price (MAP) on a range of goods collectively acquired by its members” though it would “not impose limitations or restrictions on a member's actual selling prices”.

The authorisation was requested by Narta for a total period of 10 years.

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