CMA fines furniture parts makers £2.8m

The competition watchdog has imposed a £2.8 million fine for illegal cartel activity on two furniture parts manufacturers that conspired not to compete on price.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that Thomas Armstrong (Timber) and Hoffman Thornwood – which supply drawer parts to well-known furniture manufacturers such as Silentnight – admitted that to breaking competition law by agreeing to not to compete on price and sharing out which customers they would supply.

They agreed to pay the fines after admitting to market sharing, coordinating prices, bid-rigging and exchanging commercially sensitive information, which reduced customer choice and gave the appearance of competition where there was none.

Another company, BHK (UK), confessed its involvement in the cartel activity shortly after the investigation had started. The CMA said it would not be fined provided it continues to cooperate with the CMA, and complies with the other conditions of its leniency policy.

Stephen Blake, CMA senior director for cartels, said: “When competitors collude like this, they do so at the expense of customers, increasing prices, and reducing quality and choice. In this case, the collusion concerned products that are found in furniture in homes and offices across the UK.

“Today’s settlement demonstrates the CMA’s determination to pursue those who take part in anticompetitive behaviour, which is harmful to consumers, businesses and the wider economy.”

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