Paul Fairbank of reseller Atlas Telecommunications has accused Panasonic distributors of fixing the UK trade prices. He told Comms Business Magazine –
“It seems that the ‘big three’ distributors – Rocom, Nimans, and MTV – have once again initiated their illegal cartel by having agreed between them a fixed maximum discount on Panasonic kit when previously they were competing with each other to get the business. They are all trying to blame Panasonic for this price fixing, but I have contacted Panasonic who say they would never do this as it is indeed illegal and they are very annoyed about it and will be contacting them.”
“However, as we all know, in the short term if the aforementioned three stick to their price fixing there’s probably not a lot we can do other than us dealers pulling together to get the office of fair trading involved.”
Comms Business requested comments from the three distributors and Panasonic and at the time of posting all had responded.
Martin Hatcher, chairman at MTV Telecom commented, “This is entirely untrue. Anyone with a modicum of sense will know that Rocom, Nimans and ourselves couldn’t even agree the time of day let alone any pricing strategy.”
Richard Carter at Rocom confirmed that Panasonic had reduced margins to all distributors recently and that ‘common sense’ trade margins were being sought by the distributor.
“Of all the systems we sell Panasonic returns the lowest margins but it is ridiculous to suggest that distributors are in collusion.”
Nimans’ Managing Director Julian Niman told us: “We do not discuss our pricing policy with anyone, let alone competitors. What’s more we have been actively promoting a sales policy which explicitly states our opposition to pure price driven marketing in favour of an added-value strategy. We want dealers to select us on the overall value of what we have to offer, not just on price which is only one part of our channel proposition.”
Public Relations Manager at Panasonic Jane Hinton called to say, “We are fully aware of competition issues and regulation and as a company we have a policy of absolute compliance having invested considerable resources in to ensuring we do comply. There is no truth in this allegation.”