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19 Feb 2021 | 12:17

Kingspan outlines reforms after Grenfell disaster

(Sharecast News) - Kingspan, the Irish building materials group whose insulation materials were used as part of the cladding on Grenfell Tower, outlined changes to its Insulation Boards business practices as it reported an uptick in full-year trading profit. The company's K15 product constituted about 5% of the insulation used on Grenfell Tower. However, Kingspan said it was used without the company's knowledge in a system that was not compliant with the buildings regulations and was unsafe.

The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people in June 2017 found that the principal reason for the rapid flame spread on the tower was the polyethylene cored (PE) ACM cladding material, which Kingspan pointed out was "neither manufactured nor supplied" by the company "and would never be compliant for use in a system combined with K15".

"Kingspan is today outlining the actions it has taken and is taking in response to a number of serious issues arising out of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry process. These issues relate to unacceptable employee conduct at its UK Insulation Boards business, and historical process shortcomings by this business," it said.

"Kingspan apologises unreservedly once again for these shortcomings which are not consistent with its values or its commitment to conduct its business to the highest safety standards."

Included among the actions taken is a compliance and governance review carried out by law firm Eversheds Sutherland. Kingspan said it was committed to implementing in full the recommendations made, and this work is already underway.

In addition, Kingspan has made "substantial" changes to date in its Insulation Boards division, including new fire testing and accreditation protocols, publication of all BS 8414 test reports and the introduction of a new Marketing Integrity Manual.

The company has also introduced management and governance changes to strengthen its approach to product safety and compliance. These include the recent appointment of a Group Head of Compliance & Certification; changes to divisional and UK senior management in the Insulation Boards business; and the appointment of Product Compliance Officers in every business division across the group.

Kingspan - whose staff reportedly made jokes in 2016 that claims about their products' safety were all lies - has also introduced a new code of conduct "based on three core principles of integrity, honesty and compliance".

For the year to the end of December 2020, trading profit nudged up 2% to €508.2m, with revenue down 2% to €4.6bn.

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