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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Collusions on the fitness market? Proceedings of UOKiK

< previous | next > 29.06.2018

Collusions on the fitness market? Proceedings of UOKiK
  • Have the largest fitness club chains in Poland and the Multisport package operator created a cartel which divided the market and impeded the operations of other companies?
  • UOKiK initiated proceedings against 16 undertakings, including club operators Calypso, Fabryka Formy, Zdrofit, Fitness Platinium, Fitness Academy.
  • Fines up to PLN 2 million may be also imposed on the managers involved in
    a potential breach.

The number of Poles attending fitness clubs is growing. In 2017, it was almost 3 million people*. They do not always buy tickets or passes directly at the club, they also use sports and leisure packages. These are often offered by employers to employees as an incentive. The employer concludes a contract with a package operator who acts as an intermediary between the employer and his employees and the fitness club.

In 2017, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, assisted by the Police, conducted searches at the premises of the fitness chains and Benefit Systems - the largest sports and leisure package operator in Poland Benefit Systems (who offers i.a. Multisport card).

“We collected evidence indicating that 16 undertakings** might have entered agreements restricting competition. It seems the fitness clubs divided the market between themselves by determining in which regions of Poland they will operate” - says the president of UOKiK, Marek Niechciał.

From the consumer's point of view, this could mean that, for example, Fabryka Formy chain did not open clubs in Gdańsk, and Calypso chain - in Poznań. As a result, consumers could be in a worse situation than if the market had not been divided.

UOKiK also suspects that the collusion participants agreed not to cooperate with Benefit systems’ rivals, e.g. OK System, who offers competitive packages to Multisport’s cards. Such practices might have helped protect the strong position of Benefit Systems on the sports and leisure package market, put employers looking for an alternative to Benefit Systems services in a worse situation, and at the same time, deprive consumers using other packages than Multisport of access to their preferred clubs.

“The evidence we have collected may indicate six company managers have been involved in the collusion. That is why for the first time, we decided to initiate proceedings against natural persons. They may be imposed with fines of up to PLN 2 million. In turn, the maximum sanction we may impose on a company is 10% of its sales. Undertakings and managers can avoid high sanctions by applying for the “crown witness" of UOKiK status under the leniency program. It is applicable to those who agree to cooperate with UOKiK and provide evidence or information on the collusion” – says the president of UOKiK.

The liability of managers for market collusions has been introduced in Poland in 2015, and the proceedings are conducted on the basis of both Polish and EU law.

These are not the only actions taken recently by UOKiK on the fitness market. In 2017, the Authority considered also the application for a concentration approval, concerning acquisition of the Y chain by X. When the Authority expressed its concerns, the acquiring company withdrew its application for a concentration approval. 

Additional information for the media:
UOKiK Press Office 
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa
Phone: +48 695 902 088
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

*“The European Health & Fitness Market 2018” report.

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/pl/Documents/Reports/pl_kluby_fitness_EuropeActive_Deloitte_EHFMR_2018_PL.PDF

** The undertakings against which UOKiK conducts the proceedings:

  1. AM Classic (Wrocław)
  2. Baltic Fitness Center (Warsaw)
  3. Bartosz Gibała Platinium (Kraków);
  4. Benefit Partners (Warsaw)
  5. Benefit Systems (Warsaw)
  6. Calypso Fitness (Warsaw)
  7. EFC (Warsaw)
  8. Fabryka Formy (D±browa)
  9. Fitness Academy sp. z o.o. (Warsaw)
  10. Fitness Academy sp. z o.o. SKA (Wrocław)
  11. Fit Invest (Warsaw)
  12. Fitness MCG (Warsaw)
  13. Fitness za rogiem (D±browa)
  14. Jupiter Sport (Wrocław)
  15. Platinium Wellness (Kraków)
  16. Zdrofit (Warsaw)

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