More detail on furniture parts cartel fine and decision

On 27th March 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority issued more detail on its final decisions in relation to the furniture parts cartel case.  It confirmed that 3 suppliers of furniture parts breached competition law and imposed fines of over £2.8m.  See here for earlier BFM article.

The decisions follow January’s announcement that Thomas Armstrong (Timber) Ltd and Hoffman Thornwood Ltd had agreed to pay fines totalling over £2.8 million after admitting market sharing, co-ordinating prices, bid-rigging and exchanging commercially sensitive information. Another company, BHK (UK) Ltd, also confessed its involvement in cartel activity shortly after the start of the investigation, and has not been fined as it was the first to come forward under the CMA’s leniency policy.

  • In one decision, the CMA found that between April 2006 and September 2008 BHK (UK) Ltd and Thomas Armstrong (Timber) Ltd took part in an illegal cartel in respect of the supply of chipboard and MDF based drawer wraps to the UK bedding, office and domestic furniture industry. The CMA imposed penalties of £1,509,000.
  • In the second, the CMA found that between July 2006 and September 2008, and between at least September and October 2011, Thomas Armstrong (Timber) Ltd and Hoffman Thornwood Ltd took part in an illegal cartel in relation to the supply of chipboard and MDF based drawer fronts to the UK bedding industry. The CMA imposed penalties of £1,309,000.

The CMA’s investigation into these companies was launched on the basis of information provided to the CMA’s dedicated cartels hotline.

For further details, the case page is available to view online here.

Furniture manufacturers who bought parts affected by the cartel during this period would have likely incurred an overcharge and may have a source of claim for recovery of that overcharge.