Grenfell Tower fire: Manufacturer of cladding identified as Omnis Exteriors

Firm sold the cladding linked to the rapid spread of the fire to Harley Facades, the firm responsible for installing it

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

A company called Omnis Exteriors manufactured the aluminium composite material (ACM) used in the cladding, 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, whoever that may have been,” said Cowley.

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

Omnis, one of the only firms in the supply chain yet to issue a statement about the tragedy, sold aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding to Harley Facades, which was responsible for installing it.

A construction firm called 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 due to filings at Companies House that reveal CEP Architectural Facades, which has since been bought by Worcester-based Omnis, was a supplier to Harley Facades’ sister company Harley Curtain Wall.

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

At the time, CEP was owed £479,126 by Harley but was deemed an “unsecured creditor”, meaning it was at the back of the queue for repayment.

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.”

Omnis’ website states that it 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 corporate grandee Tony Rice.

Rice is a former chief executive of telecoms giant Cable & Wireless and is also a trustee of the housing charity Shelter.