Spanish fashion group Cortefiel has rejected claims by textiles industry watchdog Consejo Intertextil Espanol (CIE) that its "special offer" sale campaigns are illegal.

Spanish press yesterday (18 December) quoted CIE sources as saying that the offers "border on illegality" and "prostitute" the country´s sales campaigns, hurting smaller retailers.

The offers allow Cortefiel to fast-track the bona-fide post-Christmas and summer sale seasons, which start on 7 January and 1 July respectively, CIE sources claimed.

However, a Cortefiel spokeswoman said the actions "are not illegal".

"When you start a sales campaign you discount most items in the store but with special offers only a limited number of products are put on sale," the spokeswoman said.

She added that special offer discounts are also smaller than those of the official "rebajas" or sales periods.

That may be so but the campaigns have earned Cortefiel a string of fines since 1996.

In 2004, the Catalunya (Barcelona) regional government fined the company EUR90,000 (US$118,466) for holding sales campaigns before the regular sales periods. That followed a EUR60,000 infraction two years before, Spanish newspaper La Gaceta reported.

The Balearic Islands also fined the retailer EUR75,000 in 2005.

The Cortefiel spokeswoman would not confirm the fines and would not say if new ones are pending.

Cortefiel owns the eponymous Cortefiel banner, one of Spain´s biggest specialty apparel chains, and the fast-growing Springfield and Women´s Secret chains.

By Ivan Castano.