Model agencies in fee-fixing probe

The beautiful people have been accused by UK regulators of having an ugly side.

Model agencies in fee-fixing probe

Fashion model agencies might have colluded to squeeze higher fees out of retailers and consumer brands, a British antitrust agency said.

Storm Model Management Ltd (which discovered Kate Moss), Models 1, Premier Model Management, Viva, and FM Models might have exchanged confidential information, the Competition and Markets Authority said. An industry group also sent emails urging them to reject some customer fees to get a better deal.

“The CMA alleges that these five model agencies sought to achieve higher prices, in negotiations with their customers, by colluding, instead of competing,” said Stephen Blake, the authority’s senior director of cartels and criminal.

The allegations are aimed at the high end of the British modelling industry: Premier launched Naomi Campbell’s career, Storm discovered Moss and Cara Delevingne, and Models 1 represents Sophie Dahl and Yasmin Le Bon.

The companies were sent statements of objections yesterday, and regulators won’t decide on any fines until they respond.

Customers who might have been overcharged — who the CMA says include high-street chains, online fashion retailers, and consumer goods brands — could then seek compensation.

Storm wasn’t available to comment. Models 1, Viva, Premier, and the Association of Model Agents didn’t respond to a request for comment.

FM Models ceased trading, because of insolvency, in December 2015, according to the joint liquidator, Rebecca Dacre, at Mazars LLP. She declined to comment.

The French competition authority is also probing model agencies.

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