Supermarket row

Greek supermarket owners yesterday toned down threats to make consumers cover the cost of the fine the country’s Competition Commission is expected to impose on the association representing the sector and seven of its members for colluding to set a floor under shelf prices. The Association of Greek Supermarkets (SESME) issued a statement saying remarks by a spokesman on Tuesday had been misinterpreted. It added, however, that the fine would still affect shelf prices, while forcing supermarkets to trim costs. «Any consequence for consumers will stem from the reduction of our ability to continue the practice of discounts, and from the curtailing of investment programs,» SESME said. «The notion of passing on the fine to consumer prices is an over-simplification, as our ability to raise prices is not unlimited and competition functions.» The fine has still to be announced, although the commission’s decision was issued last Friday. On Tuesday, SESME, which has protested volubly over the ruling, said the fine would affect pricing policies. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said this must have been misinterpreted. «I still believe [SESME] is a responsible association,» he said. Constantinos Machairas, general manager of AB Vassilopoulos, one of the chains named by the commission, said AB would not raise its prices.

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