Lighting retailer fined £1.5m over preventing online discounts

The UK competition watchdog has dished out a £1.5 million penalty to Dar Lighting for illegally preventing online price discounts.

The retailer, which is a supplier of domestic light fittings, restricted the level of discounts retailers could offer to customers online between 2017 and 2019.

Selective Distribution Agreements (SDAs) are a legitimate way that businesses can make products available to a number of select retailers.

Legislation states that suppliers using SDAs must never misrepresent what the agreement allows them to do.

But Dar Lighting broke the law by restricting its resellers’ ability to discount.

An internal email captured by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said:

“We need to focus on the websites. No ‘sales’ ‘offers’… at all.”

Further evidence published by the CMA included a message sent by a senior employee at the company:

“No one should be advertising 40% off…in their header. We are not a discount brand.”

During the regulator's investigation, a lighting reseller told the authority that the threat of being dropped as an approved stockist made him comply with pricing instructions.

He wrote: “…. we were told not to sell any Lighting Book 2 or David Hunt products below list price… We were told if we did not adhere to this policy our account would go on hold or be closed…”

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