Competition watchdog looks to break open the cement market

Marion Dakers
THE COMPETITION watchdog yesterday warned it could force Britain’s biggest cement producers to sell off assets and widen out the market.

The Competition Commission found that the four biggest cement firms in the country “know too much about each other’s businesses and have concentrated on retaining their respective market shares rather than competing to the full”.

“Strikingly, despite low demand for cement over recent years, prices and profitability for the GB producers have still increased,” said inquiry group chair Martin Cave.

Lafarge Tarmac was forced to sell off some of its assets at the start of the year following its merger, but the watchdog said problems in the market continue to result in higher prices for customers.

It said, however, that its findings did not mean the companies were explicitly colluding.

The Competition Commission will publish its final report in January 2014, but said yesterday it will consider a range of remedies including forced disposals, bans on price announcements and restricted information sharing.

Lafarge Tarmac said it “strongly disagree[s] with the commission’s provisional findings” and has “a strong commitment to conduct all business dealings in an ethical, fair and legally-compliant manner”.