French retailer E.Leclerc is to contest a decision by the Paris Appeal Court ordering it to reimburse EUR61.3m to 48 of its suppliers.

The sum relates to refunds or commissions paid to Leclerc's purchasing arm, Galec, within contracts with suppliers. The payments were triggered when sales volumes reached certain levels.

According to extracts of the judgement seen by just-food, the court concluded the refunds or commissions created "a significant imbalance" between the retailer and its suppliers.

Among the industrial groups that the court has ordered Leclerc to reimburse are Bonduelle, Ferrero, Jacquet and United Biscuits.

However, in his blog on the group's website, Leclerc's president, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, accused France's finance ministry of interfering in commercial relations between retailers and industrial groups.

He underlined the case in question, brought to the Finance ministry's attention by the state Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), had already been thrown out by the Paris commercial court.

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"To my knowledge, the appeal was the result of an autonomous decision by the ministry and did not involve industrial groups none of whom had come forward to the contest the contracts they had signed," Leclerc said.

He confirmed the retailer would be appealing to France's Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation.