Six of the market’s biggest cosmetics brands are in hot water in Greece for allegedly colluding to fix prices. Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, and Christian Dior, as well as three Greek companies, have been fined nearly 20 million euros ($22 million) by Greece’s competition authority in connection with a case charging them with flouting competition by agreeing on the discounts to be applied to their products when sold by third party distributors and thereby, indirectly fixing prices.
Greece’s anti-trust commission fined the local arms of the six cosmetics companies a total of 18.7 million euros, with U.S.-based Estee Lauder taking the biggest hit by way of a 5.4 million euros ($6.3 million) fine. L’Oreal and Christian Dior – both French companies – were slapped with 2.6 million euro ($3 million) and 1.8 million euros ($2.1 million) fines, respectively.
“L‘Oreal denies any accusations of unlawful competition,” the company said. The world’s biggest cosmetics and beauty products company – which owns Lancome and Kiehl’s and holds licenses for YSL, Giorgio Armani, Viktor & Rolf, and Maison Margiela, among others – said it will appeal the competition body’s ruling.
Estee Lauder said in a statement it was “reviewing the authority’s decision with the intention to appeal,” while Christian Dior – which falls under the umbrella of luxury conglomerate LVMH – could not immediately be reached for comment.
The fashion industry is no stranger to claims of collusion, which typically takes the form of an agreement between two or more parties in order to limit open competition and runs afoul of the law in an array of jurisdictions, including but not limited to the U.S. Last year, just about every major modeling agency came under fire – and was fined – for collusion. It started in London. According to the United Kingdom government, five agencies – whose models include some of the biggest and buzziest names in fashion, such as Mica Argañaraz, Adwoa Aboah, Emily Ratajkowski, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington, among many others – agreed to exchange information in order to illegally fix prices and demand higher fees from fashion brands and retailers.