LONDON — The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has opened an investigation into suspected anticompetitive arrangements in the U.K. clothing, footwear and fashion sector, a spokesman for the CMA confirmed Sunday.
On Sunday, London’s Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that investigators from the CMA were probing major agencies in the city, including Storm Model Management, Premier Model Management and Models 1, over what the paper said are “claims that the firms are working together as a secret cartel to drive up appearance fees.” The Mail also reported that investigators had seized hard drives and files from the agencies in the course of their investigation.
The CMA spokesman said the organization is not naming the companies it is investigating.
According to a case page on the CMA’s Web site, the investigation opened in March and is in the process of information gathering, which includes “issuance of formal or informal information requests and parties’ responses.” The CMA estimates that it will decide in October whether to proceed with or to close the investigation.
Its Web site stated: “This case is at an early stage and no assumptions should be made that there has been an infringement of competition law.” The CMA said it is investigating whether the businesses concerned are infringing Chapter 1 of the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The agencies that the Mail reported are involved represent some of the U.K.’s most successful models — Storm represents Kate Moss and Jourdan Dunn, Models 1 represents Erin O’Connor and Yasmin Le Bon and Premier reps Malaika Firth and Lara Mullen.
Storm and Premier did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Models 1 said Monday that the agency is “cooperating with the investigation.” The CMA is a nonministerial department of the U.K. government, which promotes competition for the benefit of consumers within and outside the U.K.