V&S Group is mulling whether to go to Sweden's Supreme Court in a bid to overturn a decision from the country's alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget to de-list wines handled by the company.

Systembolaget, Sweden's state-owned monopoly, has said it will stop selling 15 wines distributed by V&S from 1 March.

The retailer's move follows charges that were brought against nine current and former V&S employees for bribing Systembolaget workers between 2001 and 2003 in return for improving the profile of their products in stores.

However, V&S, which believes it could lose sales worth around SEK32m (US$4.6m) due to Systembolaget's decision, has hit out at the retailer.

A V&S spokesman said Systembolaget's decision stems from the retailer's move to draw up new contracts with suppliers in 2004. 

Under these contracts, the spokesman said, Systembolaget reserves the power to withdraw products from sale if a supplier breaches its agreement with the retailer. Violations include attempting to bribe Systembolaget employees.

The spokesman insisted that V&S had not signed the 2004 contracts and said Systembolaget should not have come to its decision before the trial of the current and former V&S employees is complete.

The spokesman said: "The new contracts were imposed in 2004 and were not agreed to by us. They were also imposed after any possible bribery occurred and Systembolaget should not be able to act retrospectively."

He added: "As a monopoly company, is it right that (Systembolaget) can set the rules and punish a company?"

V&S, which has already had two legal appeals on Systembolaget's decision turned down, may turn to the Swedish Supreme Court, the spokesman said.

"We have partners on the Nordic market and the sale of their products could be handed to our competitors," he added.

Systembolaget officials could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.