Investigation into refusal to supply school uniforms

Outcome of investigation

Following an investigation by the Competition Authority (the “Authority”), a manufacturer of a particular school’s uniforms agreed to supply uniforms to a second retailer and to expedite orders made by that retailer.  

Outline of Case

In May 2014, the Authority received a complaint of alleged anti-competitive conduct in the school uniform market. The complainant, a retailer of school uniforms, approached a local school and pointed out that the school’s policy of appointing a single approved retailer of school uniforms was at variance with the Authority’s recommendations. Following this representation, the school agreed to appoint the complainant as a second approved retailer of its uniforms. The complainant then placed an order with the manufacturer who produced uniforms for the school. The manufacturer was initially willing to supply the complainant, however following representations from the first approved retailer, the manufacturer refused to supply the second retailer.

After a preliminary analysis of the complaint the Authority was satisfied that this complaint raised competition law concerns. Requests for information were issued to the parties concerned and following replies to these requests for information, it was apparent that there were no impediments, such as copyright issues, preventing the manufacturer from supplying the complainant.

Following the Authority’s intervention, the manufacturer (i) agreed to supply the complainant with the school uniform in question, and (ii) agreed to expedite orders made in relation to the school in question. 

Relevant Provision 

Section 4 and/or Section 5 of the Competition Act 2002

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