LONDON, Sept 20 Britain's three biggest
department stores colluded with a garment manufacturer to fix
the price of one of the nation's leading sports bra brands, the
UK competition watchdog alleged on Friday.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) alleged that manufacturer
DB Apparel UK Limited entered into nine anti-competitive
agreements with department stores John Lewis, Debenhams
and House of Fraser between 2008 and 2011.
It believes they infringed competition law by entering into
resale price maintenance agreements that set a fixed or minimum
resale price on numerous products within the Shock Absorber
sports bra range on a nationwide basis.
The OFT said that during the three years in question the
Shock Absorber range had a market share of about 15 percent.
"The OFT takes allegations of price-fixing seriously. Resale
price maintenance limits competition between retailers and can
lead to consumers paying higher prices," said Ann Pope, OFT
Senior Director of Services.
She said no assumption should be made at this stage that
there has been an infringement of competition law.
"We will carefully consider the parties' representations to
the (OFT's) Statement of Objections before deciding whether
competition law has in fact been infringed."