The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred the UK market for the supply of aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete to the Competition Commission (CC) for further investigation. The referral comes after a study carried out by the OFT identified elements in the market that it believed could prevent, restrict or distort competition. Larger firms’ treatment of smaller companies, information exchanges, joint ventures across sectors and the difficulty of entering the market are among the issues identified by the study. The OFT also highlighted the monopoly that a small number of companies seem to have over the UK cement industry, with five firms accounting for over 90% of the cement market.
The Chief Executive of the OFT, John Fingleton, stated that “More than ever, well-functioning markets are crucial to economic growth. Aggregates, ready-mix concrete and cement, important in their own right, are also fundamental to the wider construction industry. We are concerned that competition is not working well in these sectors, with underlying features of the market giving rise to persistent concerns. Lack of effective competition not only affects the public sector and business customers but ultimately leads to higher prices for consumers too.”
The CC will examine the potentially restrictive features outlined in the OFT’s study, as well as looking into possible solutions. The markets in Northern Ireland will not be investigated by the CC.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/europe-cis/19012012/competition_commission_to_investigate_the_uk_aggregates_cement_and_ready-mix_concrete_markets/