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UK: Littlewoods and Argos hit by Hasbro's 'Responsible Approach'

Date: 21 Feb 2003

Littlewoods and Argos, two of the major UK retailers, have been hit with record fines by the Office of Fair Trading after toymaker Hasbro blew the whistle on a cartel in which it was itself involved.

Hasbro has defended its action, saying it took the "responsible approach" when it discovered that some of its employees had become involved with price-fixing with the two companies. It now faces tense times with the owners of outlets upon which it depends for a significant proportion of the sales of its toys and games.

Hasbro said: "These activities occurred almost two years ago and involved a small number of employees. Staff in the sales and marketing area who were involved in these activities left the company and a new senior management team was put in place."

Argos was fined £17.28m and Littlewoods £5.37m. Hasbro could have been fined £15.59m but the OFT cut this because it provided "crucial evidence" before a probe into the retailers had begun.

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