Model agencies fined £1.5m by competition watchdog for price-fixing

The companies have represented clients including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss

Ben Chapman
Friday 16 December 2016 17:46
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Storm, the agency that launched Cara Delevingne's modelling career has been fined £491,000
Storm, the agency that launched Cara Delevingne's modelling career has been fined £491,000

Modelling agencies who have represented clients including Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss have been fined a total of £1.5 million for price-fixing, the competition watchdog said today.

The Competition and Markets Authority said five agencies, along with trade body the Association of Model Agents, “regularly and systematically” exchanged pricing information for at least two years. In some cases they fixed a minimum price for work which is illegal.

Storm, the agency that launched the modelling careers of Ms Delevigne and Ms Moss, was fined £491,000, while Premier, which is most famous for discovering Naomi Campbell, was ordered to pay £150,000. Sophie Dahl and Yasmin Le Bon’s agency, Models 1, was fined £394,000. Viva and FM Models were also sanctioned.

John Wotton, chair of the team that made the decision, said: "The agencies and the AMA colluded with each other over their approach to pricing and, in some instances, the agencies agreed to fix minimum prices.

"This type of behaviour harms the economy and deprives businesses and consumers of the benefits of competition."

Premier, Storm and Models 1 said the CMA was “wholly mistaken” in its findings and vowed to appeal.

In a joint statement they said their actions were not aimed at fixing prices but to “protect the interests of models and also ensure a sustainable market which benefits customers, the economy and society”.

Models 1 managing director John Horner said the CMA was “penalising modelling agencies for seeking to maintain professional standards within the industry whilst also protecting the interests of young and vulnerable people.”

The ruling would damage a “small but important UK industry which is recognised as successful internationally,” he said, adding that the fines would not achieve their aim of improving competition and were “disproportionate” when compared with breaches by other agencies in France and Italy.

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