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European court to advise on anti-internet stance of dermo-cosmetic company

By Katie Bird , 12-Nov-2009

A French dermo-cosmetic company has been given permission to continue to prohibit its authorised retailers to sell products over the internet in an ongoing competition case.

Retailers of Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmétiques (PFDC), the cosmetics segment of Laboratoires Pierre Fabre, will not be able to sell products on the internet, while the Parisian court of appeal waits for a response from the European Court of Justice.

The company, based in the Castres, France, maintains that its products should be sold by a qualified pharmacist who can properly advise consumers.

Internet sales not only cut out the personal advice available to consumers, they also favour counterfeit goods and prevent the company from perfectly tracing its products and ensuring quality and safety, PFDC claimed.

In 2008 France’s competition authorities (l’Autorité de la Concurrence) accused the company of anti competitive activity and fined the operation €17,000.

PFDC took issue with the Autorité’s decision, taking the case to the Paris court of appeal.

Calls on European Court for opinion

The Paris court has now decided to call on the European Court of Justice for its opinion on whether the restriction imposed by PFDC on its retailers constitutes anti-competitive activity.

Until the European Court of Justice has made its decision the company will continue to operate through its retailers and not on the internet.

PFDC holds brands such as Avène, A-Derma, and Glytone, as well as the dermo-pharmacie brands Klorane, Galenic and Elancyl. Sales for the dermo-cosmétiques brands totalled €829m in 2008 out of a company total of €1.75bn.

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