Upmarket furniture retailer Natuzzi has denied involvement in alleged price fixing, for which it has been reported to the Office of Fair Trading.
The Italian-based retailer has been reported by independent Preston furniture retailer Cresta. The indie store claims Natuzzi tried to prevent it from selling goods more cheaply than Natuzzi does in its stores.
In a statement Natuzzi said: “The court will deal with all matters raised, including any allegations of resale price maintenance; allegations that Natuzzi are vigorously defending against.”
A Cresta spokesman said: “We will not be bullied into anything by Natuzzi. Consumers should be able to get the best price they can get.”
Cresta, which has been selling Natuzzi goods for 17 years, claims it has taped conversations with Natuzzi which it will pass to the court.
An email from Natuzzi sent on October 12, 2007, by then managing director Nick Moore who is now managing director of Conran Shop, which has been seen by Retail Week, said he wanted Cresta to operate a fixed price policy, with a maximum discount in Sale periods of 20%, to match its own policy.
The Natuzzi executive wrote:
“I would ask you do the same. It is obviously not in our interests to get into a price war!”
Cresta has been granted an injunction preventing Natuzzi from drawing on its bank guarantee at present.
The OFT would not comment and Moore was unavailable.