The UK’s three main suppliers of rolled lead are accused of breaking competition law by participating in a cartel.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that the three companies entered into the cartel to share the market for rolled lead — which is an important product for the construction industry — among themselves.

Accounting between them for some 90% of UK rolled lead supplies, the companies concerned are: Associated Lead Mills Ltd, H.J. Enthoven Ltd, and Calder Industrial Materials Ltd.

The CMA alleges that the cartel: colluded on prices; exchanged commercially sensitive information; refrained from targeting some of each other’s customers; and collectively refused to supply another company whose business threatened to disrupt the market sharing arrangement.

Speaking for the CMA, Michael Grenfell, Executive Director for Enforcement, said that the Authority “hopes that this provisional finding will send a strong reminder that companies need to follow competition laws”.

These are crucial, he added, to protecting customers from paying more for products than they should do.

Associated Lead Mills Ltd is headquartered in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, and has a sister company Jamestown Metals Limited; H.J. Enthoven Ltd trades as BLM British Lead, based in Welwyn Garden City); and Calder Industrial Materials Ltd is based in Chester.

The CMA points out that its findings are provisional and will not necessarily lead to a decision that the companies have breached competition law.

The three firms will have the opportunity to consider the detail of the CMA’s provisional findings and respond to them, with the Authority saying that it will carefully consider any representations made before issuing its final findings as to whether or not the law has been broken.

Last reviewed 15 April 2019