Two offences focus on the distribution of vans between dealers in the north of England, Wales and Scotland; one between Ciceley Commercials – Mercedes’ 2013 CV Dealer of the Year – and Northside Truck & Van, and another between Ciceley and Road Range, while Mercedes itself admitted an offence on the sale of trucks along with dealers Ciceley, Enza and Road Range. Ciceley has dealerships in Bolton, Blackburn, Carlisle and Dumfries, Road Range operates in Liverpool, Deeside and north Wales, and Northside has seven sites across Yorkshire.
The manufacturer has been fined almost £1.5m, Ciceley just under £660,000, Enza nearly £350,000 and Road Range over £115,000, while Northside escaped penalty after being first to apply for immunity in exchange for aiding the investigation. The fines include a 15% reduction for admitting to the offences, though two others – one involving vans and one trucks, are still being investigated.
“These cases send a clear signal that the OFT will take firm action against companies that collude to deny customers the benefit of fair competition regardless of the size of the firms involved or geographic scope of the investigation,” said OFT senior director of cartels Ali Nikpay.
The OfT said there was“some form of contact or discussion on the margins they would offer to compete less vigorously in each other’s areas”.