The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has handed fines of over £9m to rolled lead suppliers, Associated Lead Mills Ltd and H.J. Enthoven Ltd for breaking competition law
Following an investigation into suspected cartel conduct, the CMA found that Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) and H.J. Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead), had broken the law by entering into anti-competitive arrangements.
Both firms admitted their roles in the illegal cartel earlier this year and now face fines of £1.5m and £8m respectively.
Previously, the CMA had provisionally found that a third company, Calder Industrial Materials Ltd, had become involved at a later stage in one of the arrangements, but the CMA has now determined that there are no grounds for action in respect of this firm.
The CMA’s findings follow a thorough review of the evidence, including the written and oral representations submitted by the businesses.
Rolled lead is an important product for the UK construction industry, used mainly for roofing. ALM and BLM are two of the largest suppliers in the market.
The four anti-competitive arrangements took place between October 2015 and April 2017 and included colluding on prices, sharing the rolled lead market by arranging not to target certain customers, and arranging not to supply a new business because it risked disrupting the firms’ existing customer relationships.
Each of the arrangements also included exchanges of commercially sensitive information.
‘Cheating customers out of a fair deal’
Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said: “These companies knowingly entered into illegal arrangements restricting competition between them.
“Such anti-competitive arrangements tend to inflate prices and cheat customers out of a fair deal.
“The CMA does not tolerate such behaviour.
“Construction is a sector firmly under our spotlight and if businesses break the law by entering into anti-competitive arrangements, they run the risk of large fines.”
Commenting on the announcement, NFRC chief executive, James Talman, said: “NFRC stands for roofing excellence and in no way tolerates anti-competitive practices amongst its membership.
“Now the CMA has made its final judgement, and all the evidence is available to us, we will refer this case to our Risk Committee to consider the behaviour of the two members involved, in light of our Code of Practice.”
He added: “The CMA has given a clear message that construction is very much in the spotlight and any firms who are found to undertake anti-competitive arrangements run the risk of large fines.
“We hope to work with the CMA to ensure the roofing industry is fully aware of competition law and understands the consequences of non-compliance.”