Case reference: CE/9088/09
JJB Sports PLC ('JJB') and Sports Direct International PLC ('SDI')
Whether the parties have participated in an agreement or agreements
and/or concerted practice or practices with the object or effect of
restricting competition within the sports goods retail industry.
Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and
Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998.
Case closure summary
- In September 2009, following the receipt of information from a
leniency applicant JJB, (see note 1) the
OFT opened an investigation into a suspected breach of Article 101
of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and/or
Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 in the sports goods retail
industry. The leniency application related to a suspected
broad-ranging agreement or concerted practice between JJB and SDI
allegedly aimed at dampening competition in the sports goods retail
- As a result of the emerging evidence, the investigation became
focused on suspected price fixing in respect of a variety of sports
goods and suspected market sharing (by means of coordination as to
the location of the parties' respective stores).
- Following a thorough assessment of the evidence it has gathered to
date, the OFT has reviewed the case in light of its prioritisation
principles. As a result, the OFT has decided to close the case.
- In reaching this decision, the OFT has taken into account a range of
relevant factors, consistent with its prioritisation principles. In
particular, the OFT has to date uncovered only limited evidence of
potential price fixing, much of which is contradicted by other
material. It has therefore concluded that the likelihood of being
able to determine whether or not there has been an infringement is
currently too low to merit prioritisation.
- Further investigation would also be required to determine whether or
not there has been an infringement in relation to the location of
the parties' stores. The OFT has concluded that this is not merited
at the present time. In arriving at its decision, the OFT has taken
into account the likely consumer impact of a case focused solely on
store coordination, as well as its strategic significance. The
evidence so far uncovered by the investigation suggests that any
coordination with respect to store locations may have affected only
a relatively limited number of stores for a relatively limited
period or periods.
- In reaching its decision, the OFT has also taken into account the
resources that would be involved in pursuing this investigation in
the context of the resource requirements of other investigations it
already has open or may open in the future.
- The OFT has not reached a view on whether or not the parties have
infringed competition law in relation to the store locations or
price fixing. Considerable additional work would be needed before
it would be in a position to make any such determination.
- The decision to close this investigation on prioritisation grounds
does not, in any circumstances, amount to a statement that either
party has acted illegally or has infringed the Chapter I prohibition
or Article 101 and nor should any such conclusions be inferred from
this closure decision. Nor does it prevent the OFT from deciding to
re-open its investigation in the light of new information or a
change of circumstances.
- Following its investigation, the OFT has drawn the parties'
attention to the guidance it has recently published about how
companies can ensure compliance with competition law.
- The OFT's prioritisation decisions involve consideration of a range
of factors. No conclusions should be drawn from the present case as
to the likelihood of the OFT prioritising other current or future
Note 1: JJB announced on 10 September 2009 that it had applied to
the OFT for leniency and had been granted a Type A marker by the OFT
under its leniency programme.
Published 17 October 2011