Britain's three biggest department stores colluded with a garment manufacturer to fix the price of one of the leading sports bra brands, the UK competition watchdog alleged today.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) alleged that manufacturer DB Apparel UK Limited entered into nine anti-competitive deals 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 minimumre sale 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%.
''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, Senior Director of Services at the OFT.
She said, however, no assumption should be made at this stage that there has been an infringement of competition law.