The Celotex business manufactures PIR insulation. The business is part of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK limited, which is a member of the Saint-Gobain group. Celotex was acquired by Saint-Gobain Group in September 2012. In 2014, Celotex supplied PIR insulation, known as RS5000, through distributors, which was one of the components used in the Grenfell Tower rainscreen cladding system.
The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 shocked everyone. Celotex in association with Saint-Gobain reiterates its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims, the survivors and others affected by this tragic event.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry and related investigations are on-going. The Group welcomed the Inquiry and supported its aims. From the beginning, Celotex has been committed to cooperating fully and to being completely transparent with the Inquiry.
Celotex manufactures and supplies insulation products to distributors for use in the construction industry. RS5000 was, from the summer of 2014, marketed for use in rainscreen cladding systems for buildings with a storey height above 18 metres. Sales of RS5000 accounted for approximately 1 % of Celotex’s turnover during the period of sales of RS5000 from August 2014 to June 2017. Celotex net sales amounted to £58M in 2019.
Celotex does not design and install cladding systems and did not do so at Grenfell Tower. The design of the rainscreen cladding system on Grenfell Tower and the selection of the various components were decisions made by construction industry professionals. The professionals and contractors included parties who were contractually and professionally obliged to consider the fire safety of the building and its compliance with Building Regulations. Relevant Building Regulations in England focus on systems rather than on individual components: the external façade of a building with a storey height above 18 metres is required to “adequately resist the spread of flame”. This is a question determined not by individual components but by the overall design and effect of the system in which they are used.
Celotex was not responsible for these judgments: it did not take them and was not able or expected to take them.
Prior to marketing RS5000, in May 2014, Celotex commissioned a fire performance test pursuant to the relevant standard, BS8414:2, for a particular rainscreen cladding system including RS5000 as one component.
Celotex’s product literature for RS5000 explained that the fire performance and classification report it had obtained only related to the system that Celotex had tested. It also stated that using RS5000 in another cladding system should be the subject of consultation with the building designer. Such literature was available on the company’s website throughout the period in which the product was on sale.
The rainscreen cladding system installed on Grenfell Tower was substantially different from the rainscreen cladding system described in Celotex’s product literature.
After the fire, Celotex commenced its own review, with the assistance of its professional advisers. This focused on the circumstances in which RS5000 was tested, launched and marketed. This review was a significant and thorough undertaking. The results of that work, so far as relevant to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the market and other stakeholders, were disclosed by Celotex as soon as the relevant information became available. Details could also be found on Celotex’s website. Much of what was learned through that review exercise was previously unknown to current management.
In particular, it became apparent that there were differences between the rainscreen cladding system which had been tested to BS8414:2 for Celotex in May 2014 prior to the marketing of RS5000, and the way that rainscreen cladding system was described in the report of the BS8414:2 test and in Celotex’s product literature.
In order to determine whether the mis-description of the test system gave rise to any safety issues, Celotex commissioned a further BS8414:2 test in April 2018 which replicated as closely as possible the system described in the BS8414:2 test report and the product literature. That test showed that the retested system met the relevant criteria.
Actions taken by Celotex in line with Saint-Gobain’s culture:
On the morning following the fire, Celotex published an announcement on its website acknowledging the use of its product and confirming its willingness to assist the authorities with their inquiries. Celotex continues to fully cooperate with the Inquiry.
In the days immediately after the fire, as a precautionary measure, Celotex discontinued the sale of RS5000.
Following the fire, Celotex undertook extensive work to ensure its products were safe, including submitting products for further fire testing.
It is clear that the matters discovered during the internal investigation involved unacceptable conduct on the part of a number of former employees. They should not have happened and are not in line with the Saint-Gobain culture. Disciplinary proceedings were instituted as a result and six employees left the company (others having resigned previously).
Management at Celotex has been strengthened. The current management team all post-date the launch of RS5000. New marketing, technical, operational, and quality assurance managers have been appointed.
Since the fire and the subsequent investigation, Celotex has been undertaking a detailed review and refresh of its factory process controls, quality management and approach to marketing to ensure that its culture, systems and processes relating to product compliance and product safety meet industry best practice and are the subject of continuous improvement.