John Lewis suit looms over Dixons PC supply exclusives

Packard Bell and Compaq involved too

John Lewis may sue rival Dixons over anti-competitive practices in the PC market. The department store chain has taken legal advice from a top QC and is considering either suing Dixons directly or taking the Office of Fair Trading to court. It is upset about Dixons signing exclusive PC supply agreements with vendors Compaq and Packard Bell. John Lewis has even enlisted the help of Nick Palmer, Labour MP for Broxtowe, to raise the issue in the House of Commons tomorrow and ask for the OFT to re-open its inquiry into the fairness of the market. It is also willing to take the OFT to court or seek judicial review if the government refuses to re-open the inquiry - last autumn the OFT ruled the British PC market was competitive. John Lewis feels Dixons' deals with manufacturers will push up prices for consumers. "This is a sophisticated way of sewing up the market. We don't think that consumers are aware that Currys, PC World and Dixons are all the same company. The deals will force everyone else out," a representative for John Lewis told today's Daily Telegraph. Compaq stopped supplying John Lewis with computers before Christmas, and Packard Bell has warned the company that there will be no more PC deliveries after June 30. A spokesman for the OFT said yesterday: "We will have to look into the allegations and then decide whether it is worth opening an inquiry. It is certainly not unprecedented to return to an issue." According to Dixons, it's just a case of sour grapes. "If anything it will bring prices down and expand the market," a representative said. ® Related stories Profits jump at Dixons UK PC retailers don't rip-off customers So are PC retailers responsible for 'Rip Off' Britain?

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