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UK retailers suing Amazon for damages up to £1.1bn in ‘watershed’ case

A group of UK retailers are suing Amazon for damages of up to £1.1 billion (Tim Goode/PA)
A group of UK retailers are suing Amazon for damages of up to £1.1 billion (Tim Goode/PA)

A group of UK retailers are suing Amazon for damages of up to £1.1 billion, over claims it misused their data and pushed them out of the market to inflate its own profits.

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) said it was the biggest collective action ever launched by UK retailers.

The claim is being filed by the group, on behalf of UK retailers, at a specialist London tribunal on Thursday.

Bira alleges that Amazon’s UK marketplace illegally used data belonging to competing sellers to market rival products for a cheaper price.

It primarily took place between 2015 and 2023, before new rules set by the European Commission came into effect.

The information it took helped it decide which products it should sell itself, at what price, and which consumers to target, therefore benefiting its own retail operations, according to the claim.

Shoppers can buy products sold directly from Amazon, or through independent sellers who list their products on the marketplace.

More than 80% of Amazon’s UK purchases are made by customers using a system dubbed the “buy box”, whereby shoppers make a purchase using the “buy now” or “add to basket” buttons.

Bira also alleges in its claim that Amazon manipulated the buy box to favour its own products and conceal those belonging to rival sellers.

Amazon has long challenged claims that it misuses the information it collects from third-party retailers, and that it uses the buy box to favour its own retail operations.

It also agreed to a number of commitments after the UK competition watchdog opened an investigation into its practices in 2022.

Bira, represented by law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, estimated that Amazon could be forced to pay out as much as £1.1 billion in damages if the case is successful.

An Amazon warehouse
Amazon is being sued by a group of UK retailers over claims it misused data from third-party sellers (Ben Birchall/PA)

It said this was calculated using economic analysis of data showing online sales made on Amazon’s UK marketplace.

If the tribunal agrees to proceed with the class action, then a trial could not happen until the middle of 2026, unless Amazon agrees to make the retailers involved a settlement offer beforehand.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s chief executive, said Amazon has become the “dominant marketplace in the UK” for people shopping online.

“As a result, for small retailers with limited resources, Amazon is the marketplace to start online trading,” he said.

“The British public has a strong relationship with its local, independent retailers and ensuring they are not put out of business by Amazon’s illegal actions is a key driving force behind this collective action.

“This is a watershed moment for UK retailers, but especially for small independent retailers in this country.”

Amazon has been contacted for comment.