Mariage Frères condemned for unlawful agreement

The French Competition Authority has imposed a significant financial penalty of 4 million euros on Mariage Frères, revealing cartel practices in the luxury tea sector. Mariage Frères must now deal with the repercussions of these anti-competitive practices.


On Monday December 11, the French Competition Authority imposed a financial penalty of 4 million euros on the Mariage Frères group, one of France’s leading producers of high-end teas. This decision follows cartel practices in the luxury tea sector.


For nearly fifteen years, the Mariage Frères group “hindered the commercial freedom of its distributors by prohibiting them, on the one hand, from selling its branded products online, and, on the other, from reselling its products to other retailers”, says the Autorité in a press release.


The Autorité de la concurrence highlighted the restrictive practices exercised by Mariage Frères towards its distributors. The latter were subject to a double prohibition, preventing them from selling the brand’s products online and reselling them to other distributors.


This hindrance to commercial freedom lasted for an exceptionally long period of fourteen years and six months, according to the Autorité’s decision.


Double ban


Distributors were obliged to refrain from selling Mariage Frères products online, thus depriving their customers of access to modern sales channels. “These practices, which limited intra-brand competition and compartmentalized markets, constitute a cartel”, said the French competition authority.


Since July 2008, this double prohibition has been included in the general sales conditions (GSC) applicable to the Mariage Frères distribution network.


“Many distributors, often small or even very small businesses, have suffered from this ban, which has hampered the development of their business,” notes the French competition authority. “At the same time, between 2013 and 2021, (…) the Mariage Frères group’s share of online sales (mainly via its website or Amazon) has more than tripled,” it adds.


“By coupling this practice with the ban on reselling to other distributors, Mariage Frères also deprived end consumers of the possibility of benefiting from better prices resulting from effective competition between all distributors”, the Autorité considers.


Preserving the image of prestige


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Featured photo : © Mariages Frères

Picture of Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet is a young and passionate journalist whose favorite subjects are economy, culture, gastronomy, but also cars, and sports. With a sharp pen and an insatiable curiosity, Hugues is constantly on the lookout for new hot information to report.

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