An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that three suppliers, who account for about 90% of UK rolled lead supplies, entered into a cartel to share the market among themselves.
The CMA alleges that the companies allocated customers between themselves, colluded on prices and exchanged commercially sensitive information. Collectively they refused to supply another company whose business threatened to disrupt their market sharing arrangement.
The CMA has been investigating Associated Lead Mills Ltd, which has its headquarters in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, and its sister company Jamestown Metals, along with HJ Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead, based in Welwyn Garden City) and Calder Industrial Materials Ltd, based in Chester.
The investigation has been running since July 2017. The CMA has now set out its provisional findings that the three suppliers entered into this anti-competitive arrangement which broke competition law. At this stage, the findings are provisional and the firms now have the opportunity to respond. The CMA will consider any representations made before issuing its final findings as to whether the law has been broken.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director for enforcement, said: “These are the three biggest suppliers of rolled lead in the UK, between them making up about 90% of supplies. Their products are in everyday use by builders, especially for roofing of both homes and businesses across the UK.
“After a thorough investigation, the CMA has provisionally found that these three companies colluded among themselves to share out the market. The CMA hopes that this provisional finding will send a strong reminder that companies need to follow competition laws. These are crucial to protecting customers from paying more for products than they should do.”