Ongoing CMA Investigation into Rolled Lead Cartel – Comment by Midland Lead
More than three years after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation started into alleged anti-competitive arrangements, two of the UK’s largest rolled lead sheet manufacturers, Associated Leads Mills and BLM British Lead have admitted guilt and face fines of up to £11 million. A third company, Calder Industrial Materials is still under investigation as to its part in this alleged breach of competition law.
Midland Lead’s Managing Director Boudewijn Tuinenburg, reacts to the news of the ongoing cartel allegations; “Our sector is in the unfortunate position of being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, but the severity of this case and the adverse effect that it has on the lead industry as a whole is something that cannot pass without being highlighted. It is well documented that this investigation has already been carried out over several years and left many contractors and builders merchants frustrated at the fact that they have been exploited by fixing prices.
“Midland Lead is an independent family-owned company that has been manufacturing machine cast lead for 37 years and has not, in any way, been complicit in the rolled lead cartel investigation by the CMA. Customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we welcome healthy competition, customers trust suppliers to maintain a fair and honest price and that’s something that Midland Lead has always done – and will continue to do. This focus on price-fixing is in no way reflective of how Midland Lead and many other manufacturers conduct business.
“We are convinced about the positive aspects of lead and its place in the roofing and construction industry and champion its use and qualities. The lead industry should be working together to support its future in construction, but this CMA investigation makes that very difficult for us to do until there is a conclusion that reprimands the companies involved.
“Now, more so than ever, we should be focussing on the positive aspects of lead, working with organisations that share the same values to tackle wider issues within our sector. Issues that we face such as the skills shortage and sustainability are more achievable with a strong lead industry, where manufacturers and contractors work together.
“Focussing on the positives, for many years we have championed lead as it is one of the most sustainable construction materials in the world. In March this year, we were awarded an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for our BBA-approved cast lead. Midland Lead is the only lead manufacturer to achieve this certification and we worked closely with BRE for more than eighteen months as they carried out a thorough Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The LCA evaluated every part of the product lifecycle of our lead including the initial extraction of raw materials and the manufacturing process, to distribution, the product’s use and its end-of-life value as a recyclable product. This achievement for lead as a sustainable, durable, and environmentally friendly product is what we should be focussing on as an industry.”
Lynn Street, marketing and sales manager at Midland Lead, adds: “We have successfully grown our business in the UK and overseas by being innovative, customer-focused and ethically providing high-quality products.
“We are passionate about lead sheet and our role within the construction sector. We feel there is so much work to be done to overcome issues such as skills shortage, diversity, mental wellbeing and sustainability. At Midland Lead, we are proud to continue to support over eighteen roofing colleges and promote diversity within the construction sector. But we should, together as one industry, be promoting the use of lead, share innovative ideas, fund research, and invest in training. However, the CMA investigation and the provisional findings mean that as an industry, we will never be able to sit down in one room without suspicion – and that is unfortunate for the entire sector.”