On 10 May, investigators from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have raided Robert Wiseman Dairies, revealing that they had “reasonable grounds to suspect infringements of the [first two chapters of the] Competition Act.” The two chapters came into force in March last year, prohibiting cartels, restrictive agreements and the abuse of a monopoly position.
The OFT focused on suspected abuses of power within Wiseman because the company controls 80% of the Scottish milk market.
The investigations were instigated after last Christmas‘ publication of the Competition Commission inquiry into milk supply for middle ground retailers in Scotland. The report concluded, in a statement that one third of the inquiry body did not agree with, that Wiseman’s monopoly “did operate, or might be expected to operate, against the public interest.”
If the raids uncover evidence that the Act has been broken, a fine of up to 10% of Wiseman’s UK turnover can be imposed. This can also be backdated to March of last year.
Grahams Dairies, Scottish Milk and Ballantyne are also being investigated by the OFT.
Last night, a spokesman from Wiseman commented: “We report our progress and activity on a regular and frequent basis to the OFT.” The company admitted it was surprised about the raid and added: “We are co-operating fully with [the OFT’s] request for information.” Wiseman expects to see a satisfactory conclusion.