John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser embroiled in sports bra price fixing accusations
Office of Fair Trading accuses retailers of entering into illegal anti-competition deals with retailer of the Shock Absorber range, famously marketed in adverts with Anna Kournikova, from 2008 to 2011
John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser are being investigated over allegations of price fixing in relation to a leading brand of sports bra.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued the three department stores, along with the Shock Absorber bra-maker, with a “statement of objections” that alleges they broke competition laws by all agreeing to set resale prices.
So-called “anti-competition” measures are illegal because they tend to keep prices artificially high for the benefit of the retailers, with customers losing out.
The OFT accuses lingerie maker DB Apparel of entering into nine separate anti-competitive agreements between 2008 and 2011, applying nationally and across a number of products in the Shock Absorber range, which amount to a “serious infringement of competition law”.
DBA’s Shock Absorber brand is already highly successful in the UK, with a share in the sports bra market of approximately 15 per cent during the period in question and having previously run marketing campaigns with tennis star Anna Kournikova.
Ann Pope, OFT senior director of services, infrastructure and public markets, said: “The OFT takes allegations of price-fixing seriously.
“Resale price maintenance limits competition between retailers and can lead to consumers paying higher prices.”
She said the regulator would consider representations from the accused companies before making a ruling - expected by next March - on whether there had been a breach of competition law.
All four of the companies allegedly involved denied any wrongdoing.
DB Apparel said: “We reject any allegations by the OFT that we have entered into any agreement or understanding with retailers as to their retail prices of our products.
“We have been transparent with UK authorities since the beginning of this process and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously in this investigation.”
House of Fraser said: “We are confident that we have been operating within all laws and regulations and are very supportive of any initiative which ensures pricing policies are fair for our customers.”
A Debenhams statement said: “Debenhams disputes these provisional findings of the OFT, but is not in a position to comment further at this stage. The matter is being dealt with by its external lawyers.”
John Lewis said: “John Lewis always strives to operate within the law and comply with regulations.
“We are fully cooperating with the OFT and will respond in due course.”
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
China's 'Inconvenient Truth': video exposing country’s smog crisis watched 100 million times
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...