The General Rapporteur of the Autorité de la Concurrence, the agency that investigates anti-competitive practices in France, has carried out a number of raids on luxuy watch retailers in the country.
The Autorité has not commented on the identity of the companies nor on the alleged practices it is investigating.
It is unclear whether the investigation is focusing on the activities of one or more luxury watch brands, and the way they conduct business with their retail partners, or whether retailers are accused of colluding in a way deemed anti-competitive in France.
A statement from the Autorité de la Concurrence says that “unannounced inspections have been carried out in the luxury watch retail sector”.
The statement continues: “Following authorisation from the liberty and custody judge, the investigation services of the Autorité de la Concurrence have raided yesterday the premises of companies suspected of having engaged in possible anti-competitive practices in the luxury watch retail sector. Such interventions do not, of course, pre-suppose the existence of a breach of the law which could be imputed to the companies involved in the alleged practices, which only a full investigation into the merits of the case could establish, if appropriate.”
The news follows the publishing of a new EU directive, Directive n° (UE) 2019/1. which sets out to empower the competition authorities of EU member states to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market.