Three of the UK’s top high street department stores have been accused of colluding in a 3-year period (2008-2011) to fix the price of sports bras under the Shock Absorber brand (produced by DB Apparel). The Office of Fair Trading alleges the retailing giants teamed up with underwear company DB Apparel to set the price of its sports bra (adding up to £1.50 to the retail price). Under current law, if found guilty each of the retailers could face a fine up to 10% of their global turnover (and in the case of John Lewis this would amount to as much as £950 million!). The allegation follows a 17-month OFT investigation.
A DB Apparel spokesperson commented: “We have been transparent with UK authorities since the beginning of this process and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously in this investigation.”
OFT spokesperson said: “The OFT takes allegations of price-fixing seriously. Resale price maintenance limits competition between retailers and can lead to consumers paying higher prices.”
John Lewis and House of Fraser both stated that they were confident they had operated within the law and were co-operating fully with the OFT. Debenhams reportedly is disputing the allegations but refused further comment at this time.