Tobacconists fined for obstructing the distribution of FDJ games by florists

“I take note of this sanction, reacted Philippe Coy, president of the Confederation of tobacconists. JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP

Estimating this behavior of“particular gravity”the Competition Authority imposed a sanction of 750,000 euros against the National Confederation of Tobacconists.

750,000 euros fine, for opposing the sale of Française des jeux (FDJ) games by florists. The Competition Authority has just sanctioned the National Confederation of Tobacconists of France (CNBF) for “agreement practices”, aimed at preventing the FDJ from diversifying its sales network. In this case, by relying on the florists of the Florajet brand.

A “lucky bouquet” with scratch cards

The facts date back to 2016. At the time, as today, the FDJ mainly relies on tobacconists to sell its games of money and chance (Loto, scratch tickets, etc.). But from 2013, the sector leader began to develop contractual relations with the company Réseau Fleuri, which sells bouquets on the internet, relying on 7,500 member artisan florists. Together, the FDJ and Réseau Fleuri first imagined the “Bouquet Chance”, accompanied by scratch games. A first step before, at the end of 2015, the florists of the Florajet network begin to distribute certain scratch games and drawing games (Loto, EuroMillions and Keno grids).

The tobacconists saw red. The acts with which they are accused took place between August 23 and September 27, 2016. Considering that “the Florajet affair » required « very harsh action against the FDJ », according to comments revealed by the Competition Authority, they launched operations to boycott the validation of Française des jeux tickets. They also sought to “plant their new game”a EuroMillions formula launched on September 27, 2016. Their action had an immediate effect: the non-renewal of the contract between Florajet and the FDJ.

“Exiting the limits of its legitimate union activity”

Following the transmission of the investigation report from the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), the Wise Persons of the Competition Authority considered that these practices were “particularly serious” from a professional trade union organization. “By focusing on ousting potential competitors of tobacconists, the CNBF has gone beyond the limits of its legitimate union activity by intervening in the market,” they insist.

The network of FDJ partner merchants remains 72% made up of tobacco shops. The diversification of the FDJ network is limited to 1,400 points of sale: shops in service stations and local food stores (less than 400 square meters). But no more florists.

“I take note of this sanction, reacted Philippe Coy, president of the Confederation of tobacconists. I am not contesting a court decision. But I find it harsh.» According to him, the Confederation was not “absolutely not” at the initiative of any maneuvers. “I am not sure that the damage, if there was damage, is equal to the sanction which strongly penalizes our professional organization,” deplores the leader.

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