Poland's Eurocash has criticised the actions of UOKiK, the country's competition and consumer protection office, saying that a fine the body imposed on the retailer and wholesaler could only serve to strengthen the 'discriminatory practices of suppliers' towards independent stores.
UOKiK imposed a fine of PLN 76 million (€16.5 million) on Eurocash for what it described as 'unfair use of contractual advantage'.
'Additional And Unjustified Charges'
It suggested that suppliers of agricultural and food products were required to pay 'additional and unjustified charges' to Eurocash, with some paid-for services not undertaken at all.
UOKiK also said that the fees being charged by Eurocash were not issued in order to 'provide reliable services'; rather they were used to 'reduce the remuneration due to suppliers of agricultural and food products'.
In a statement, Eurocash said that it did not agree with the fine, as well as claims that the wholesaler had a contractual advantage over foreign businesses, such as international suppliers.
"The imposition of a fine on Eurocash will most likely strengthen the discriminatory practices of suppliers towards the segment of Polish independent stores, which will further worsen their competitiveness in relation to discount chains," commented Jacek Owczarek, member of the management board of Eurocash SA.
"The determination by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection that Eurocash has a contractual advantage over part of the largest food concerns in the world illustrates well the problem of a possible misinterpretation of the definition of a contractual advantage. UOKIK should not protect global corporations against a wholesaler whose main activity is focused on organising deliveries and improving the competitiveness of nearly 80,000 Polish stores."
Owczarek added that UOKiK's suggestions are "not in the interest of the Polish consumer or the Polish economy".
Eurocash said that it plans to appeal the decision to the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection.