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NARTA Slammed By ACCC, Accused Of Trying To Push Up The Price Of Electrical Goods

By David Richards | Thursday | 11/04/2013

Australian buying group Narta has been slammed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after they tried to set a minimum price which the ACCC claims would have forced up the price of electrical and consumer electronic goods in Australia.

An application by the buying group to get a "minimum" price for consumer electrical goods has been rejected.

ChannelNews has been told that one of the organisations pushing for a minimum price was Turkish appliance group Beeko.

The ACCC said that the Narta application would have resulted in price rises in Australia for electrical goods.

Members of Narta include Betta Electrical, Bing Lee, David Jones, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Radio Rentals along with 28 other retailers.

ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said "The ACCC has denied authorisation because Narta's proposed conduct would be likely to result in significant public detriment by reducing competition between retailers and raising both the advertised and selling prices of electrical products".

 The competition group has issued a determination denying authorisation to Narta International Pty Ltd for proposed arrangements allowing it to set a minimum advertising price on a range of consumer electrical goods.

The ACCC said that authorisation would have allowed Narta to impose a minimum advertising price on several exclusive model or BEKO branded products that are collectively acquired by Narta members, including televisions, cameras, white goods and kitchen appliances.

Allowing Narta to set a minimum advertising price on a broad range of electrical goods may have provided increased choice for consumers on some products but the ACCC considers this benefit is likely to be outweighed by the reduction in competition between retailers from setting minimum advertised prices.

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

The ACCC said that the recieved an application on the 17 of September 2012, from Narta International seeking authorisation for 10 years so that their members could set minimum advertising prices.

Narta claimed that this will allow them to impose a minimum advertising price (MAP) on a range of goods.

Singled out as being behind the move was Turkish appliance group Beeko who stands accused that their UK appliances were responsible for up to 11 deaths in the UK.

Narta told the ACCC that the level of the MAP would be set by Narta senior management and notified to members. Narta said that they would not impose limitations or restrictions on a member's actual selling prices.

The ACCC's determination is available at www.accc.gov.au/AuthorisationsRegister

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