October 19, 2009

FTC Investigating Babies R Us For Widespread Baby Gear Pricefixing

From a report in the Baby Industrial Complex section of the Wall Street Journal--yes, it has its own section now, thanks, Rupert!--we learn that the Federal Trade Commission has opened an anti-trust investigation into price-fixing at Babies R Us.

The investigation arises from data gathered as part of an anti-trust lawsuit against Babies R Us that gained class-action status this summer. Two online retailers, Baby Age and Baby Club, claim that between 2001 and 2006, BRU colluded with major baby gear manufacturers to set minimum prices and squeeze discount retailers. According to Consumer Affairs reporting in July, the manufacturers include: Britax, Peg Perego, Medela, Maclaren, Kids Line and Baby Bjorn.

2006 is after the acquisition of TRU/BRU by the LBO shop KKR was finalized. It's also after Britax was acquired by The Carlyle Group.

Toys `R' Us Finds Itself Under Antitrust Scrutiny-Again [wsj blogs]
Judge OKs Price-Fixing Suit Against Babies "R" Us [consumeraffairs.com]

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