German watchdog critical of Asics sales practice

Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:00am EDT

* Running shoes makers ban sales on Ebay, Amazon

* Adidas also under investigation

* No fine likely, sales practice could be stopped

DUESSELDORF, Germany, April 28 (Reuters) - The German cartel office expressed concern on Monday over the way sports goods maker Asics Corp limits sales of its products online to authorised dealers.

The Cartel Office said in a statement it objected to the fact that Asics banned the sale of its products via market-place sites like Ebay and Amazon, which it said amounted to a way of limiting price competition.

"Asics strongly restricts competition in the market for running shoes because Asics has a strong market position and other big running shoe manufacturers also limit online sales in a similar way," Cartel Office president Andreas Mundt said.

The Cartel Office, which is also investigating Adidas in a similar case, gave Asics until June 10 to respond to its concerns. Asics does not face a fine in the case but the Cartel Office could decide to forbid the sales practice.

Asics has said only authorised sellers which met its criteria could sell its products.

Adidas has said it had removed Ebay and Amazon from its network as it wanted its products to be sold only via expert and specialist retailers. (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter)