Eurospin Italia, Italy’s largest discount retailer with around 950 outlets across the country and also in Slovenia, is under official investigation over its allegedly illegal treatment of suppliers.
The group is the first retail operator in Italy to be cited in such a way and be suspected of breaching the rules of Article 62, a new set of laws introduced in 2013 to regulate contractual agreements between suppliers and retail buyers.
The Italian Competition Authority (ICA), which was granted new powers to monitor the food supply chain when Article 62 was ratified, confirmed it had launched the investigation into the arrangement of “unjustifiably burdensome” payments that Eurospin allegedly demanded of its suppliers on a semi-annual basis, apparently for “no service provided” in return.
It also revealed that ICA representatives and members of Italy’s Guardia di Finanza police force had conducted inspections at the retailer’s offices and would conclude their investigation at the end of March 2015.
Last year, Eurospin’s annual sales increased to €3.87bn from €3.5bn in the previous 12 months. Its net profit for 2013 was €152m, up from €130m in 2012.
ICA can impose substantial financial penalties as high as €500,000 on those companies that fall foul of the new regulations by failing to adhere to mandatory payment terms.
Fines of up to €20,000 can be imposed on companies failing to meet the regulation’s requirements as far as contractual elements are concerned.