Lingerie manufacturer DB Apparel has denied allegations that it entered into agreements with three major UK retailers to fix the price of its sports bras.
The Office of Fair Trading has accused Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser of setting the price of the brand’s Shock Absorber range of bras between 2008 and 2011.
The agency said each of the nine agreements amounted to resale price maintenance, a serious infringement of competition law.
OFT senior director of Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Ann Pope said: “The OFT takes allegations of price-fixing seriously. Resale price maintenance limits competition between retailers and can lead to consumers paying higher prices."
“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 Statement of Objections before deciding whether competition law has in fact been infringed.”
A DB Apparel statement 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.”
A John Lewis spokesperson said in an emailed statement: "We note the statement issued today by the OFT. 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."
Debenhams also responded to the allegations. The retailer said: “Debenhams Plc 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.”
A House of Fraser spokesperson said: “House of Fraser notes the Office of Fair Trading’s Statement of Objections related to an investigation into allegations of price fixing. We are co-operating fully with the Office of Fair Trading and the ongoing investigation and will respond accordingly."
“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.”