By Joshua Kirby

 

Eyewear group EssilorLuxottica SA said Thursday that it will appeal a French antitrust authority fine imposed on Luxottica for unfair sales practices, among other companies, calling the decision both factually and legally wrong.

The competition authority earlier Thursday said that it was handing down the largest fine of 125 million euros ($147.4 million) to Italy's Luxottica, which merged with French peer Essilor in 2018, with a fine of EUR500,000 given to Parisian luxury-goods giant LVMH. The latter sanction was reduced after LVMH decided not to contest the charges.

The fines come following an investigation that found the companies guilty of unfairly controlling the prices opticians could charge for their eyewear products, and for refusing to allow them to be sold online. The charges relate to an overall period spanning from 1999 to 2015, the authority said.

"EssilorLuxottica firmly believes it has always conducted business according to the highest standard of compliance," the group said in a statement, adding that the fine is "highly disproportionate and groundless." The company added that it will appeal the authority's decision, and it is confident of proving it wrong from both a factual and legal perspective.

The charges against Luxottica relate to all brands it manufactures, including that of French fashion house Chanel. Chanel itself received a fine of EUR130,000 for refusing to allow its products to be sold online, while French eyewear maker Groupe Logo, which produced products branded with LVMH's Tag Heuer, was found also to have limited retailers' ability to set prices, but wasn't fined after deciding not to contest the charges. Logo was liquidated in 2016.

"These practices, anticompetitive in aim, are serious. Specifically, they entailed the use of mechanisms of surveillance and reprisal. Moreover, they affected consumers, some of them captive and vulnerable, given that eye-glasses and, in some cases, sunglasses, are a necessity," it added.

A spokesperson for Chanel declined to comment, while LVMH didn't respond to a request for comment.

 

Write to Joshua Kirby at joshua.kirby@wsj.com; @joshualeokirby

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 22, 2021 11:22 ET (15:22 GMT)

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