Belfast Telegraph

Five model agencies accused of colluding to fix prices

Five of Britain's top model agencies have been accused of colluding to fix prices by the competition watchdog.

FM Models, Models 1, Premier, Storm and Viva are alleged to have agreed a "common approach to pricing" between April 2013 and March 2015 for rates charged to high street retailers, online fashion firms and consumer goods brands, according to t he Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The firms named are at the top of the industry, with Storm the agency that discovered Kate Moss and Cara Delevigne, while Premier Model Management launched Naomi Campbell's career and Models 1 represents Sophie Dahl, Erin O'Connor and Twiggy.

The CMA's provisional findings follow a series of raids on model agency offices last year.

It also claims that industry trade body, the Association of Model Agents (AMA), played a key role, with the agencies using it as a vehicle for price fixing.

The AMA sent out emails to its members, known as "AMA Alerts", encouraging model agencies to reject the fees being offered by specific customers and to negotiate a higher fee, according to the CMA.

Staff from the five modelling agencies also managed the AMA's business at the time, the CMA said.

Stephen Blake, senior director of the CMA's cartels and criminals group, said: "The allegations concern prices charged to a range of customers, including high street chains, online fashion retailers and consumer goods brands.

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

The fine for price fixing can be up to 10% of total group turnover.

It is the CMA's first competition enforcement case in the creative industries.

The five agencies named by the CMA were not immediately available for comment.