A number of allegations of anti-competitive behaviour have surfaced against a leading tobacco manufacturer and retailer which has been flagged to the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission.
These allegations have been made against British American Tobacco (Fiji) Limited by Oceania Tobacco Company Pte Limited, which recently invested $3.5 million into the local business venture, saying that they have been adversely affected by their anticompetitive practices.
Oceania Tobacco Company Managing Director Khondoker Abdul Matin alleges that British American Tobacco is using its monopoly status and range of brands to actively conceal competition product.
“As per the law, you can have only one display unit at the checkout counter so when our sales rep goes and put the product there to especially give it to the retailer, when the retailer put the product as per the price, what BAT does when their sale rep or merchandiser comes they put our product right into the bottom corner which is not primary visible area.”
He says they have flagged this issue to FCCC as they are the custodian of competition law and practice in the country.
“We wrote to FCCC to solve this issue because as per the law you cannot have multiple display unit so everyone needs to share the same display unit. As BAT has been here for a long obviously they have covered all the shops with their display unit.”
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Chief Executive Joel Abraham says these sorts of allegations are concerning.
“We are looking at whether such conduct would constitute a breach of the FCCC Act. We have sought information from British American Tobacco. We have received some information. The team is currently analyzing it. Should there be a need we will proceed to caution interview if that is required and it will go on like any other investigation.”
While responding to the questions sent by FBC News, the British American Tobacco Company says it is extremely concerned about allegations made to FCCC and strongly deny these.
It says they are working with FCCC to resolve this matter.