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The Fair Trade Commission on Friday warned Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. against urging wholesalers and retailers not to sell its products to discount stores, FTC officials said.

The nation’s fair trade watchdog told Matsushita that such demands contravene the Antimonopoly Law.

Matsushita has been selling its products to wholesalers, large-scale retail stores and small stores focusing on Matsushita products via its 31 marketing company affiliates.

Since 1995, it has received thousands of complaints from smaller shops that discounters cut the prices of Matsushita goods, such as television sets and audio equipment, by as much as 30 percent, the FTC said. Such complaints have numbered between 400 to 500 each year.

Matsushita has had business transactions with 20,000 shops specializing in Matsushita products and wanted to shield the management of such shops from competition from discounters.

These small shops have for decades helped boost Matsushita’s sales by providing local communities a range of services such as maintenance and consultations, industry officials said.

However, they have faced stiffer competition with the advent of discount stores and Internet-based peddlers, the officials said.

From 1998, Matsushita probed distribution routes through which products have ended up in the hands of discounters in conjunction with the 31 marketing arms. The probe identified the wholesalers that sold its products to discounters.

Matsushita then called on such wholesalers not to sell its products to discounters.

In cases where the wholesalers rejected such requests, Matsushita limited the quantity of products it sold them or raised sale prices, the fair trade watchdog added.

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