The Competition Tribunal has approved a consent agreement relating to the alleged excessive pricing of face masks in the context of Covid-19, with two related companies to jointly pay an administrative penalty of R1.5-million.
The companies, Sicuro Safety and Hennox Supplies, have also undertaken to jointly and severally contribute R200 000 to the Solidarity Fund for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Competition Commission, which investigated complaints of price gouging against the companies found that Sicuro and Hennox had increased their prices of face masks by 969%, and 956%, respectively, between December 2019 and March without corresponding increases to their costs.
Hennox imports face masks, while Sicuro buys face masks from Hennox and retails them to customers.
In terms of the consent agreement, Sicuro and Hennox have also agreed to immediately desist from excessive pricing conduct, reduce their gross profit margin on FFP1 face masks to an agreed upon maximum percentage and ensure their gross profit margin for FFP2 and FFP3 face masks will not exceed an agreed upon maximum percentage.
They will also develop, implement and monitor a competition law compliance programme.
To date, 12 consent agreements relating to excessive pricing complaints in the context of Covid-19 have been confirmed as orders by the Competition Tribunal.