On 20 September 2013, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a Statement of Objections (SO; preliminary statement of case) to several companies in what appears to be a straightforward resale price maintenance (RPM) situation.
The agreements that are the subject of the SO, between a manufacturer of sports bras (DB Apparel UK Limited (DBA)) and three UK department stores, allegedly simply set a fixed or minimum resale price on a brand of sports bras. According to the OFT, these alleged agreements had the aim of increasing the retail prices of DBA’s Shock Absorber brand of sports bras in each of the three department stores.
This case, plus the UK investigation into Amazon also reported on in this newsletter and a UK investigation into the pricing of hotel rooms by online travel agents, shows that vertical restrictions on pricing continue to be a topic of strong regulatory interest in the UK (as elsewhere in the EU, with national competition authorities leading the way). Compliance programmes should as ever focus on this issue.