Government body to reassess Durex undertakings on condom distribution
By Liz White, ERJ staff
London-The UK's Office of Fair Trading is reviewing undertakings given in 1994 by LRC Products Ltd to prevent restrictions on competition in the supply of condoms in the UK.
In 1994, LRC-now a subsidiary of SSL International plc-which makes the Durex brand, agreed that it would no longer enter into exclusive distribution agreements with wholesalers or retailers.
This agreement followed a review of such practices by the UK's Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Agreements offering retailers financial incentives in exchange for not stocking LRC's competitors' products operated against the public interest by weakening competition and reducing consumer choice, the MMC concluded.
LRC was by far the largest UK condom supplier in 1994 and its successor retains this dominance, accounting for some 80 percent of condoms sold in retail outlets, said the OFT statement.
An earlier review in 1998 left the system unchanged. The OFT aims to complete its current review by the end of the year.