Update: Following agreement between the parties regarding consent orders other than penalty, on 17 August 2015 the ACCC's proceedings in relation to allegations of attempted price fixing conduct by Omniblend Australia Pty Ltd were dismissed. The ACCC's proceedings in relation to the resale price maintenance allegations were the subject of declarations and other orders of the Court made on the same day.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against OmniBlend Australia Pty Ltd (OmniBlend Australia), alleging it attempted to engage in price fixing with a competitor. It is also alleged that OmniBlend Australia induced a supplier to direct Omniblend Australia’s key competitor not to discount its prices for blenders.
Omniblend Australia supplies various kitchen blenders through its online store to businesses and consumers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. OmniBlend Australia and its competitor were the two major distributors of OmniBlend branded blenders in Australia.
The ACCC alleges that OmniBlend Australia attempted to enter into an agreement with its competitor to fix prices. The ACCC further alleges that when this attempt failed, OmniBlend Australia induced the supplier to engage in resale price maintenance by refusing to supply the competitor unless it stopped discounting the price of certain blenders.
“Price fixing and resale price maintenance affect consumers by increasing prices, reducing consumer choice and distorting the competitive process,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC views these types of anticompetitive conduct very seriously and will not hesitate to investigate and where appropriate take enforcement action against businesses who engage in this behaviour.”
The ACCC has joined OmniBlend Australia’s sole director, Mr Neal Bowhay, to the proceedings for aiding and abetting the alleged conduct.
The ACCC is seeking remedies against OmniBlend Australia and Mr Bowhay including pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, compliance training and costs.
The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Melbourne Registry Fast Track List. A date for the Scheduling Conference is set for 10 October 2014 at 9.30am before Justice Gordon.