UK authority drops sports-bra pricing probe

CRA provided economic advice to the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) to respond to the OFT’s case that JLP (as well as Debenhams and House of Fraser) had engaged in Resale Price Maintenance (RPM) with DBA, a producer of the “Shock Absorber” range of sports bras. The OFT argued that, following communications with DBA, John Lewis had implemented recommended retail prices (RRPs) set by DBA and that this constituted RPM.

Even though this was an object case, the economic evidence proved critical to undermine the existence of the OFT’s alleged agreement. Following the oral hearing, the newly-formed Competition and Markets Authority concluded on 13 June that JLP (along with the other defendants) had provided a credible alternative commercial rationale for the alleged exchanges with DBA and there was insufficient evidence to proceed. The CMA therefore concluded there was no grounds for action.

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