Outfits including Premier and Models 1 fined total of £1.5m for ‘systematically’ switching data for at least two years

The model book at the Premier agency

A model book at the Premier mechanism, one of the companies fined for price-fixing.
Photograph: Garry Weaser for the Trustee

UK model agencies found guilty of price-fixing

Equips including Premier and Models 1 fined total of £1.5m for ‘systematically’ switching data for at least two years

A group of British modelling intermediations that represent names including Yasmin Le Bon, Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant contain been fined £1.5m for colluding to fix prices charged to retailers, style brands and other customers.

The UK competition regulator has fined FM Models, Fashions 1, Premier, Storm and Viva, along with manufacture trade body the Association of Model Agents (AMA), for price-fixing representative services for at least two years from March 2013.

The Competition and Peddles Authority (CMA) found that the agencies and their association “systematically exchanged advice and discussed prices”, in some cases agreeing to fix minimum tolls or agree a common approach to pricing.

The price collusion specious customers including high street chains, online style retailers and consumer goods brands that use models to represent their products and appear in ad campaigns.

The regulator’s investigation looked into valuation practices across a broad spectrum of modelling assignments, from fashion ammunition shoots offering models fees of a few hundred pounds to ad actions offering more than £10,000.

The CMA said that the collusion and premium fixing did not extend to the services of so-called “top models”.

The fine and ruling is hugely damaging to the reputation of the modelling agencies and their toil. Premier represented Naomi Campbell for 17 years, while Harmattan discovered Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne, although all three are now with other workings. Models 1 represents Sophie Dahl and Yasmin Le Bon, while Viva’s models number Stella Tennant and Natalia Vodianova.

The two biggest fines were assigned to Storm (£491,000) and Models One (£394,000). FM Models, which has been reality a £251,00 fine, shut down earlier this year.

Moulds 1, Premier and Storm said in a joint statement that they resolve to appeal against the ruling. “The CMA’s findings are wholly mistaken,” the instrumentalities said.

The agencies said the CMA has failed to understand the role of the miniature agency, which is in part to protect the interests of models. They demanded their actions were not designed to force up or fix prices but to “take under ones wing the interests of models and also ensure a sustainable market which helps customers, the economy and society”.

“We reached our decision to appeal the CMA’s declarations without hesitation,” said John Horner, the managing superintendent of Models 1. “The CMA is penalising modelling agencies for seeking to testify professional standards within the industry whilst also fostering the interests of young and vulnerable people.”

Le Bon credited the AMA with “nurturing and watch over” her at the beginning of her career and said it “taught [me] how to become the model I am today”.

“Had it not been for the apprehension, experience and professionalism of the agency I would not have sustained a zoom in the industry,” she said. “It takes time and commitment to build a speed and the AMA, with its agents, have always sought to protect under age models from exploitation, but also from clients who are guardianship pressure to pay increasingly low fees.”

Storm model Hannah Cassidy implied the AMA’s guidance had been “essential because the pressure and dangers of exploitation are honest”.

“I have benefited from their experience in negotiating measures, working conditions, terms and image use,” she said. “Agents advocate but also protect models from unfair contract and exclusivity denominates which could harm their careers. They also take in sure I get paid on time.”

Viva, which was fined £245,000, also strenuously denies wrongdoing.

“Viva strongly vary froms it agreed to fix minimum prices or that it agreed a common overtures to pricing,” said a spokeswoman for the agency. “To date, the CMA has produced no attestation to demonstrate that the conduct which is the subject of the CMA’s Decision had any truly on the rates models represented by Viva received for assignments; this is because it did not get any such effect.”

The CMA said that the AMA and the agencies also went to influence other members of the industry body by regularly releasing email circulars, known as AMA Alerts, urging them to curb the prices offered by customers on the grounds they were too low.

“When responsibilities collude rather than compete the ultimate losers are clients,” said John Wotton, the chair of the Case Decision Categorize at the CMA, which made the decision. “This type of behaviour injuries the economy and deprives businesses and consumers of the benefits of competition.”