‘You can’t control online pricing,’ repeats BMA

An element of those working in the building industry wrongly believe they are still able to control online retail pricing, the Bathroom Manufacturers Association has claimed.

The continuing investigations into price fixing by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) aroused “considerable debate” among members attending the BMA’s annual AGM meeting at St. George’s Park, it said.

However, the BMA warned that the CMA has considerable powers and should a company be found to be breaking the law, huge fines could be handed out.

This has previously been demonstrated with large fines being handed out to bathroom fittings supplier Ultra Finishing, fridge supplier ITW, and more recently lighting supplier the National Lighting Company (NLC).

“The BMA AGM saw additional information coming from the CMA,” said BMA chief executive Yvonne Orgill. “Although the case they refer to is the lighting industry, similarities exist. The CMA had again approached the BMA as a conduit to the wider industry to advise that ‘warning’ letters should not be ignored and in fact the CMA takes them very seriously. Warning letters are used to advise companies to take a closer look at their procedures/processes and policies and where necessary make amends and educate and train staff so as not to fall foul.

“It is important that manufacturers take heed if they were one of the many who received warning letters distributed throughout our industry. Several members at the AGM sought clarity on several issues and asked the BMA to seek further advice from the CMA, which we did and are happy to do so. This clarity concentrated on product and price, which when it is placed on the market, cedes to retailers and merchants the control on price, not the manufacturer, and that neither party can dictate to each other the price.

“It is important to recognise, the CMA implements the law, has the power of the law of the land behind it and all must abide by it. The BMA and its membership welcomes the interaction by the CMA on guidance, education and compliance as a fundamental part of our sector and improving its professionalism and transparency. As a leading trade body working in the KBB sector, the BMA must play its role in disseminating all relevant information.”

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