Antitrust Trade & Regulation

Written by Lisa Navarro

In September 2013, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT“) issued statements of objection (“SO“) in two separate resale price maintenance cases. The first relates to the sale of sports bras, and the second to mobility scooters. Distinct products, sold in different ways, but both have allegedly been the subject of arrangements between suppliers and retailers aimed at artificially managing the prices that consumers pay.

The investigation into price fixing for sports bras was launched in April 2012. It focused on the conduct of DB Apparel UK Limited (“DBA“) with regard to its Shock Absorber range of sports bras. Between 2009 and 2011, DBA allegedly entered into nine agreements with three major department store chains covering nationwide sales of multiple products within the Shock Absorber range. The agreements contain provisions which set a fixed or minimum resale price for the products, thereby resulting in prices being higher than they might otherwise have been.

The OFT’s decision to issue an SO to Pride Mobility Products Limited (“Pride“) and a number of the retailers that sell its mobility scooters follows a market study on the mobility aids sector which concluded in 2011. Pride and its retailers are accused of being party to arrangements which prevented the retailers from advertising online prices at levels below Pride’s recommended retail price.
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