€950m fines for ‘friends clubs’ that pushed up prices for home and personal care products

The French competition authority has fined a clutch of home and personal care products producers a total of over €950 million (£745 million) for artificially inflating the prices of products ranging from shower gel to dishwasher tablets between 2003 and 2006.

The Autorité de la concurrence investigated claims of price-fixing ‘friends clubs’ after SC Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive and Henkel informed the watchdog of the practise in exchange for leniency in the form of reduced fines in the eventual judgment.

Several other involved companies, including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Beiersdorf and Johnson & Johnson, have not contested the judgment (thereby reducing their fines). However, cosmetics giant L’Oréal has refuted the accusations and vowed to appeal its fine, which it described as ‘totally out of proportion’.