8/21/2017
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Cladding for Grenfell Tower was cheaper, more flammable option


Friday June 16, 2017
By Rob Davies

Exclusive: Omnis Exteriors asked to supply cladding £2 cheaper a square metre than fire-resistant type, investigation finds

Fire service personnel survey the damage inside Grenfell Tower. Photograph: Rick Findler/PA

Material used in the cladding that covered the Grenfell Tower was the cheaper, more flammable version of the two available options, an investigation of the supply chain has confirmed.

Omnis Exteriors manufactured the aluminium composite material (ACM) used in the cladding, a director, John Cowley, confirmed to the Guardian.

He also said Omnis had been asked to supply Reynobond PE cladding, which is £2 cheaper per square metre than the alternative Reynobond FR, which stands for “fire resistant”.

“We supplied components for a system created by the design and build team on that project,” said Cowley.

Harley Facades confirmed it had installed the panels bought from Omnis in the work it performed on Grenfell Tower.

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Omnis sold ACM cladding to Harley Facades, which was responsible for installing it.

Construction firm Rydon Maintenance was the lead contractor on the project but sub-contracted elements of the work to smaller companies, including Harley.

The supply chain was revealed in filings at Companies House that reveal CEP Architectural Facades – which has since been bought by the Worcester-based Omnis – was a supplier to Harley Facades’ sister company, Harley Curtain Wall.

CEP’s name appears on a list of firms that were owed money when Harley Curtain Wall collapsed into administration in 2015.

CEP is owned by Omnis Exteriors, which describes itself as a “leading UK manufacturer and supplier of exterior building products and systems”.

Its website states: “With almost 400 multi-storey projects completed, you know that you are in good hands.”

The website also says Omnis manufactures cladding at a workshop in St Helens and has supplied dozens of building projects around the country.

It reported a profit of £1.2m last year, the same year in which the ACM it supplied was installed on Grenfell Tower.

The company also paid a dividend of £950,000 to its sole shareholder, an investment group specialising in construction companies called Xerxes Equity.

The chairman of Xerxes and its largest shareholder is the corporate grandee Tony Rice, who is a former chief executive of the telecoms multinational Cable & Wireless and is also a trustee of the housing charity Shelter.

More to follow



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