Top UK model agencies accused of price fix scam

Five agencies allegedly sought to achieve higher prices in negotiations with customers by colluding instead of competing, says regulator

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 8:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 May, 2016, 1:18pm

The competition regulator in the United Kingdom is investigating Britain's top modeling agencies amid concerns that they colluded to fix prices.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in a statement Wednesday that FM Models, Models 1, Premier, Storm and Viva agreed to exchange confidential and competitively sensitive information, including future pricing information, and in some instances agreed a common approach to pricing.

The CMA said it would now hear statements from the agencies and the AMA before deciding whether they had broken the law.

Premier said it was not making any comment. At the time of publication other agencies named by the CMA had not yet responded to requests for comment.

Storm discovered Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne while Premier was the agency that gave Naomi Campbell her first big break.

"The allegations relate to prices charged to a number of customers including high street chains, online fashion retailers and consumer goods brands," said CMA Director of the Cartels and Criminal Group, Stephen Blake.

"The CMA alleges that these five model agencies sought to achieve higher prices in negotiations with their customers by colluding instead of competing," he said.

The regulator also said the Association of Model Agents (AMA) was also "party to the breach and played an important role in aspects of the alleged conduct".

It accused the AMA of circulating emails to model agencies telling them to reject fees being offered by customers and telling them to ask for more money.

The allegations follow police raids on several agencies in August 2015, when computers and documents were seized.