Major rolled lead suppliers in provisional cartel finding

The UK’s three principal suppliers of rolled lead have been found to have breached competition law.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found the firms, which collectively accounts for about 90% of UK rolled lead supplies, entered into a cartel to share the market amongst themselves.

Major rolled lead suppliers in provisional cartel finding

The watchdog 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.

In a statement of objections, the CMA sets out its provisional findings that the three suppliers entered into this anti-competitive arrangement which broke competition law.

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.”

The CMA’s findings are, at this stage in its investigation, provisional and do not necessarily lead to a decision that the companies have breached competition law. The firms now have the opportunity to consider the detail of the CMA’s provisional findings and respond to it. The CMA will carefully consider any representations made before issuing its final findings as to whether the law has been broken.

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