Gucci under investigation for possible violation of EU free competition rules

Kering, the luxury group that owns the brand, announced that the company was targeted in an April 18 raid

People walk outside a Gucci shop in Rome, April 20, 2023.
People walk outside a Gucci shop in Rome, April 20, 2023.REMO CASILLI (REUTERS)

Gucci, one of the most recognized brands in the luxury fashion industry, is one of the companies being investigated by the European Commission for having violated, with other manufacturers, the EU’s ban on cartels.

This was acknowledged by Kering, the group that owns Gucci, in a press release. “In the scope of an inspection carried out as part of a preliminary investigation into the fashion sector in several countries under EU antitrust rules, the European Commission has started on April 18, 2023, an inspection at the Italian premises of Gucci, a subsidiary of Kering,” the statement read. “The Group is fully cooperating with the Commission in the context of this investigation.”

The European Commission — which acts as the competition enforcer in the 27-country EU — announced on Tuesday that antitrust regulators had raided companies in the fashion sector in several EU countries, but did not provide further details.

The EU Directorate General for Competition suspects that the companies under investigation have violated Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits cartels and other agreements that could disrupt free competition in the European Economic Area’s internal market, and Article 53 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The fact that Gucci was one of the raided companies suggests the EU investigation is focused on the luxury fashion sector. No other company has acknowledged that it was targeted by the raid.

This is the third investigation that the DG Competition has opened into the fashion industry in the last two years. EU antitrust regulators said in January 2022 they were probing whether French fashion house Pierre Cardin’s licensing and distribution deals with German clothing maker Ahlers might breach European Union rules on online and cross-border sales.

A second investigation, disclosed in June 2022 following raids on some fashion companies the previous month, centered on a group of designers who had called for changes in sales periods and discounts, according to people familiar with the matter.

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