update 1-uk watchdog accuses retailers of fixing sports bra prices
* Fixed price for DB Apparel shock absorber sports bra * John Lewis, Debon Hamms, fraser House of Fraser charges * uk oft has the right to issue a punitive fine * company denies James David London misconductReuters)- Three of Britain\'s largest department stores colluded with an underwear manufacturer to determine market prices The competition regulator said Friday that the leading sports bra raised the possibility of punitive fines. Office of Fair Trade, UK (OFT) Supplier DB Apparel UK Ltd is said to be nationwide Competition agreement with employees Having the largest department store in the UK, John Lewis, was the second of Debenhams and the third House of Fraser between 2008 and 2011. Recently, OFT has taken a tougher approach to retailers to ensure that consumers can trust their prices and communication. The company took misleading price action against British supermarkets last year and last month took action against furniture and carpet retailers. It has the right to impose a fine of up to ten per cent of its global annual turnover on offenders. DB Apparel, Debenhams and House of Fraser rejected the OFT charges, while John Lewis said it \"strives to operate and comply with the regulations within the law. \"OFT claims that the four companies violated the competition law, entered into resale price maintenance agreements, and set a fixed or minimum resale price for sports bras within the range of popular shock absorbers. \"The purpose of these so-called agreements is to increase the retail price of DBA shock-proof brand sports bras in three department stores,\" OFT said . \". The company said the shock absorber series had a market share of about 15% in the UK over the three years under discussion. \"OFT accepts price charges -- Serious repair. Resale price maintenance limits competition among retailers and may lead consumers to pay higher prices, \"said Ann Pope, senior director of OFT services. At this stage, she said, it should not be assumed that there is a violation of the competition law. \"We will consider both sides carefully (OFT’s) A statement of opposition before deciding whether it is in fact a violation of the competition law. \"DB Apparel often rebutts allegations. \"Since the beginning of this process, we have been transparent to the British authorities and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously in this investigation,\" the report said . \". Debenhams said it also questioned the results of the interim OFT investigation. \"The matter is being handled by an external lawyer,\" a spokesman said . \". Its share price fell as high as 1. Friday 6% A spokesman for Fraser House said: \"We believe that we have been operating within all laws and regulations and are very supportive of any initiative to ensure that pricing policies are fair to our customers.