Lincolnshire golf club manufacturer fined £1.45m for restrictive practices

Golf club manufacturer Ping Europe Limited (Ping) has been fined £1.45 million for banning UK retailers from selling its golf clubs online.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that Ping broke competition law by preventing 2 UK retailers from selling its golf clubs on their websites. Ping is required to bring the online sales ban to an end, and must not impose the same or equivalent terms on other retailers.

Whilst Ping must allow retailers to sell online it may require them to meet certain conditions before doing so. These conditions must, though, be compatible with competition law.

The CMA found that, while Ping was pursuing a genuine commercial aim of promoting in-store custom fitting, it could have achieved this through less restrictive means.

Ann Pope, Senior Director for Antitrust enforcement, said: The internet is an increasingly important distribution channel and retailers’ ability to sell online, and reach as wide a customer base as possible, should not be unduly restricted.

“The fine the CMA has imposed on Ping should act as a warning to companies that preventing its products from being sold online could be illegal.”

The level of the fine imposed on Ping reflects that the CMA found the breach of competition law occurred in the context of a genuine commercial aim of promoting in-store custom fitting.

Restrictive practice is the abuse of dominant market position by private or public sector producers in preventing or restricting entry of new suppliers, or otherwise restraining fair and open competition.

This is a piece of news reported in August of 2017. Where this golf club manufacturer got fined £1.45m due to restrictive practices. As this golf club manufacturer is a monopolist firm, it may attempt to stop competition by adopting restrictive practices, which may be legal or illegal. For example, in this case, CMA (competition and market authority) found that Lincolnshire golf club manufacturer prevented 2 UK retailers to sell golf clubs on their websites. This prevention of other firms will lead to a decrease in market supply, therefore less variety of choices for customers. And if this firm eliminated all other firms, Lincolnshire would become a monopoly in this industry. Therefore, in this case, the firm will be able to control the price completely, and customers would have to spend higher prices in order to purchase goods such as golf clubs. 

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