Trench Construction Systems, Vp and Mabey supply groundwork products to construction sites.
Jane Imrie

Construction suppliers accused of forming cartel to drive up prices

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that three UK construction suppliers broke competition law by colluding to reduce competition and keep prices high.

In an ongoing investigation of groundwork product firms Trench Construction Systems, Vp and Mabey, the CMA has issued a Statement of Objections indicating that the three companies colluded by sharing confidential information on pricing and co-ordinating commercial activities.

Following the release of the statement, the firms will have the opportunity to counter the objections raised, before a final decision is made on whether competition law has been broken.

The CMA has recently imposed fines for similar infringements of competition law, including £2.6m for a water tank firm cartel in 2018 and £7m for a cover bidding operation between office fit out companies last month.

Speaking about the ongoing case, Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement, commented: “These are 3 major suppliers of equipment used to keep construction workers safe. It is crucial that builders and their customers benefit from genuinely competitive pricing for this essential equipment.”

“Everyone must follow competition law, which protects customers from being exploited and paying more, as well as encouraging companies to compete for business in other ways – through innovation, quality and service. The CMA uses its powers vigorously and robustly to root out illegal cartels.”

The investigation continues.

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