Eircem tells UK Competition Commission that “there is no free competition”

The managing director of Wicklow-based cement importer Eircem has told the UK’s Competition Commission that “there is no free competition” in the sector in Europe and that the business was in an “extremely difficult position” as a result.

Peter Goode’s Eircem is one of a number of firms that has made submissions to the watchdog as it progresses its investigation into the cement business in Britain.

In a preliminary finding in May, the commission determined that there were features of the UK market that “either alone, or in combination, prevent, restrict or distort competition such that there are adverse effects on competition”.

The Competition Commission focused its probe on LafargeTarmac, Cemex and Hanson, a unit of Heidelberg Cement.

CRH has also told the commission that it would be interested in buying cement plants in Britain if they came up for sale as a result of the watchdog’s findings, but that it would need to carefully evaluate the business case for purchases.

Mr Goode has told the commission that Eircem only started importing cement to Ireland within the past few months. He has claimed that efforts to procure cement from one manufacturer in the UK were rejected because the firm told him that it had an undertaking with another cement manufacturer not to export cement to Ireland.

He claimed that the alleged anti-competitive practices perpetrated “against me, my business and my family is so blatant that it defies reality and logic”.

Mr Goode previously owned Goode Concrete, which collapsed in early 2011. The company has sued CRH for damages related to alleged anti-competitive behaviour. The case is ongoing.

Mr Goode has alleged to the UK watchdog that his former business was subjected to “serious anti-competitive practices” by a European cement producer and others when he tried to import cement from Turkey in 2009. He said his firm “is now faced with this serious threat again”. The Competition Commission isn’t due to deliver is final determination until next January.

But Hanson has told the commission that its preliminary finding is misplaced.

It said competition in the British sector was increasing as CRH was emerging as “another cement major” there. Hanson told the commission that Quinn Cement had also begun importing cement to Britain in large volumes. Source: The Irish Independent