Total Wine Alleges Price-Fixing By Competitors In MinnesotaApril 2, 2015
Having entered the Minnesota market with four stores over the past year, Total Wine & More is taking aim at some of its competitors in the state, alleging that some Minnesota liquor stores are illegally coordinating pricing. In February, the Minneapolis Business Journal reports, Total Wine’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to nine Minnesota cities with municipal liquor stores, asserting antitrust violations by the stores in question, and demanding a halt to the alleged price-fixing.
The letter claims that municipal liquor stores in Apple Valley, Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie, Edina, Lakeville, Richfield, Rogers, Savage and St. Anthony—along with some privately owned liquor stores, the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association and the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association—“have been coordinating with one another about pricing in plain violation of state and federal law.”
The letter further states that the stores have been circulating lists of specific items along with specific “suggested, standard” price and markup guidelines, in a bid to collude against Total Wine. Many liquor stores in the area “are participants in a broader conspiracy to adhere to and perpetuate ‘standard Minnesota markups’ on the products they sell. Tellingly, the retailers such as Total Wine who do not follow the ‘standard markup’ pricing rules have been systematically excluded from participating in industry groups in this state,” the letter asserted.
City attorneys for Edina and Lakeville told the Minneapolis Business Journal their clients denied the charges. Total Wine’s attorney told the publication that its next steps depend on whether the alleged price coordination is stopped. Total Wine wasn’t immediately available for comment this morning.
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Tagged : Minnesota, retail, Total Wine & More
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