The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has refused to re-open its investigation into the high-street position of Dixons, despite complaints from rivals about exclusive distribution deals the group has signed (CRN, 12 April).
The OFT said in a statement released last week that the exclusive deals that Dixons has signed with leading home PC vendors Packard Bell and Compaq "did not appear to infringe the new Competition Act".
The OFT said although it was "seeking further information from John Lewis on its complaint", the agreements are "commonplace in business and do not generally give rise to competition concerns".
Jeremy Davies, analyst at research firm Context, said the complaints from John Lewis appeared to be just "sour grapes".
"There is no point the OFT looking into this, as the deals are more of a distribution issue than a competition issue.
"In the high street, bigger is better and Compaq and Packard Bell have a right to distribute their products through any retailer they choose, if they think that chain will offer them the best value for money," he said.
John Lewis, backed by Kingfisher - which owns Comet and Tempo - has claimed that the exclusive agreements could lead to increased PC prices as other outlets are forced to leave the home PC market.
Both companies have also claimed that Dixons already owns at least 57 per cent of the home PC market.
However, Dixons has continued to defend itself against the anti-competitive claims. Sir Stanley Kalms, chairman of Dixons, was reported last week to have said that aggressive positioning and competition were "the nature of business".
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