Price agreements between wallpaper manufacturers
Bundeskartellamt imposes fines of around 17 million Euros
Today the Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines totalling around 17 million euros on four wallpaper manufacturers, their representatives and trade association on account of price fixing agreements. The companies involved are A.S. Création Tapeten AG, Gummersbach, Marburger Tapetenfabrik J.B. Schaefer GmbH & Co. KG, Kirchhain, Erismann & Cie. GmbH, Breisach am Rhein, Pickhardt + Siebert GmbH, Gummersbach, and the Association of German Wallpaper Manufacturers (Verband der Deutschen Tapetenindustrie e.V.), Frankfurt am Main (VDT).
The proceedings were initiated with a sector-wide dawn raid in November 2010 following an application for leniency by Tapetenfabrik Gebr. Rasch GmbH & Co. KG, Bramsche, upon which no fine was imposed in accordance with the Bundeskartellamt's leniency programme.
Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt:
"At association meetings between 2005 and 2008 Germany's leading wallpaper manufacturers agreed price increases to the disadvantage of their customers. We have also imposed a fine on the association. Trade association work is an important element of our economic system. However, in this case it was misused to actively support the agreement between the manufacturers."
At VDT board meetings in 2005 representatives of the wallpaper manufacturers A.S. Création, Rasch, Marburger and Erismann had agreed to introduce a price increase of around 5 to 6 % for wallpaper in Germany with effect from 1 March 2006. A.S. Création as market leader was to be the first to announce the price increase. VDT's managing director at the time helped to implement the price agreement by forwarding information received from A.S. Creátion about the forthcoming announcement of the price increase to all association members.
The next price increase with effect from 1 January 2008 was also the result of another anti-competitive agreement. This had been concluded in April 2007 between A.S. Création, Rasch, Marburger, Erismann and in this particular case also Pickhardt + Siebert on the margins of a VDT general meeting and concerned a joint price increase of around 5 %.
In calculating the level of fines the authority took into consideration that Pickhardt + Siebert had cooperated in uncovering the price agreement of 1 January 2008. The proceedings against Erismann and Pickhardt + Siebert could be concluded by settlement, which was also considered in the calculation of the fines. The decisions against both companies are final. The other fines can be appealed to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.