SHOPRITE Checkers has been charged with contravening the Competition Act. Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG –Supermarket chain Shoprite Checkers and its wholly owned ticket distributor subsidiary Computicket have been referred to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution for anti-competitive conduct by the Competition Commission.

Sipho Ngwema, the head of communications at the commission, said yesterday that the two companies had been charged with signing and enforcing exclusive agreements in contravention of the Competition Act.

Ngwema said these agreements, with anti-competitive features, were concluded by Computicket with inventory providers in the entertainment industry from 2013 to date.

In the terms of the agreements, Computicket was appointed as the sole provider of ticketing services to the inventory provider or customer in question, he said.

Ngwema added that Computicket had the ability in terms of these agreements to discriminate on price between its large and small inventory provider customers.

He said Computicket’s larger customers were able to negotiate better rates from Computicket than smaller customers, which allowed Computicket to isolate the competitive pressure arising from those inventory providers who might find the option of self-supply more attractive. The commission has asked the tribunal to impose an administrative penalty of 10 percent of Computicket's and Shoprite Checkers' annual turnover.

Shoprite Group confirmed that Shoprite Checkers and Computicket had been served with the notice of referral of the complaint by the commission to the tribunal on Tuesday.

The group said the companies had studied the referral and disagreed with its basis.

“In terms of the Competition Act, the respondent companies may answer the referral within 20 business days after being served with the referral. Opposing affidavits will be filed by the respondent companies within the required time frames,” it said.

The commission initially received five complaints between 2008 and 2009 from Strictly Tickets, Artslink, Going Places, TicketSpace and Ezimidlalo Technologies against Computicket.

It referred this case, covering the period from 1999 to December 2012, to the tribunal in April 2010, with the merits of the matter heard in October last year and the tribunal’s decision still pending.

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