Monday, 18 June 2018

Construction output increase hides the true picture

ONS figures published last week show that construction output increased 0.5% month-on-month in April. Output was, however, 3.3% lower compared to April 2017, and on a rolling three-month basis contracted by 3.4%, the largest fall since August 2012. Alongside this, new orders in Q1 fell 4.6% quarter-on-quarter and 6.6% in annual terms.

Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: “The 0.5% rise in April reflects an element of catch-up after the combination of Carillion’s liquidation and the bad weather in February and March. This seems like a false positive, however, as output remained weak compared to April last year, with the 3.3% fall equivalent to a £430 million reduction in construction work. Only the private housing and industrial sectors recorded growth, the former driven by the traditional spring selling season and the latter due to shorter lead times in factories and warehouses construction.

“The new orders data confirmed an underlying weakness at the start of the year unlikely to be due to the weather. Private housing, industrial and public non-housing new orders increased during Q1, but large falls in the infrastructure and commercial sectors, which account for almost one-third of total construction, are set to act as a drag on growth.”  

Photo from Shutterstock

Monday, 11 June 2018

Job in Focus for June: Regional Sales Manager (Yorkshire) for Heavyside Building Products Supplier

Our new Job in Focus for June is a Regional Sales Manager's position covering the Yorkshire region and key surrounding areas for a growing Heavyside Building Products supplier. You would be responsible for managing the Area Sales Representatives, as well as designing and implementing sales and marketing strategies for the brand. £40k + 20% bonus

Our Construction & Building Industry Job in Focus feature takes a detailed look at some of the fantastic sales & marketing construction and building materials job vacancies currently on our books. 

Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


Job Title: Regional Sales Manager
Job Ref: J10513
Product: Heavyside
Location: North & North East
Salary: £40k


PACKAGE: Up to £40k + 20% monthly bonus, Car, Fuel card, Mobile phone and laptop, 20 days holiday + Bank Holidays and other benefits. 

EMPLOYER: A leading supplier of building products throughout the Yorkshire area. They have an abundance of experience within and timber products. 

JOB DESCRIPTION: Regional Sales Manager: This is an excellent opportunity to join a growing supplier of building products to the building and construction industry. The successful candidate will be responsible for managing the are sales representatives, as well as designing and implementing sales and marketing strategies for the brand. You will be responsible for growing the sales and accounts within the designated areas that you area sales managers represent. 

LOCATION: South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, North Derbyshire & North Nottinghamshire 

CANDIDATE: The client is looking for an established sales individual with a background within the construction industry. The individual must have an understanding of managing a field sales team within the building product sector. A Heavyside background is a must, however, anybody who has managed a team from a timber background would be considered. 

For further information or to discuss your career options contact Nick on 01480 405225 or apply online.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

UK construction faces 'shaky outlook'

UK construction is facing a “shaky-looking outlook” as growth stalled in May, according to the latest PMI. The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index remained at 52.5 in May, unchanged on April and against the neutral reading of 50.
New business growth slipped back into decline against a background of general uncertainty while input price pressures sharpened.
Respondents blamed political and economic uncertainty, subdued retail conditions and fragile business confidence for weak demand for construction projects.
Residential work remained the strongest sub-sector, though commercial and civil engineering remained in growth territory. Some firms reported unusually good weather conditions had supported activity and helped them catch up following the snow disruption.
Purchasing costs rose sharply in May, with members reporting higher costs for fuel, plastics and steel, while supplier delivery times continued to worsen.
Same Teague, an economist at IHS Markit, said: “With new order books deteriorating and cost pressures picking back up, it’s not surprising to see construction firms taking a dimmer view of prospects and pulling back on hiring, all of which makes for a shaky looking outlook.”
Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS, said: “Higher prices for fuel, raw material shortages, higher labour costs combined with slow delivery times were further obstacles to growth as firms nervously assessed their workforce for much-needed talent and subcontractors could name their price.
“However, it’s encouraging to see the housing sector put in a strong performance for a second month running, after stumbling at the beginning of the year, and with only small improvements in the other sectors, residential building is keeping construction’s head above water.”

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Builders’ merchants’ sales growth continues upward trend in Q1 2018

The Builders Merchants Federation has recently released figures in its Builders Merchants Building Index which show continued growth, albeit at a slower rate.
Despite the building and construction sector facing a challenging first quarter, sales value growth in Q 1 2018 was up +0.4% in absolute terms and up +2.0% per trading day on the same period last year. Growth would have been stronger had it not been for the Beast from the East hammering the external product categories and Good Friday falling into March, removing a trading day from Q1 2018. March, with two fewer trading days than 2017, was down -8.6% year on year. However, January and February’s sales compensated for this, at +8.4% and +4.0% respectively.
Quarterly growth was driven by Timber, up +2.3%, alongside multiple internal product categories, notably Plumbing and Heating (+8.0%), Kitchens and Bathrooms (+3.6%), Ironmongery (+2.1%), and Decorating (+1.2%), all suggesting that building work stayed inside due to the poor weather.
External categories did not fare as well, including Landscaping (-4.9%), where garden walling and paving were particularly badly affected. The major category of Heavy Building Materials was down -0.8% with Cement and Blocks feeling the freeze.
The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of builders’ merchants’ sales throughout the country, making it the most reliable source of data for the sector.
John Newcomb, CEO of BMF, said: “Sitting in the spring sunshine we have all but forgotten the artic blasts that swept the country in the first three months of the year, but they certainly impacted construction performance. Under these conditions, it must be seen as a positive that merchant sales growth is continuing. While we may not see the market grow at the same levels as 2017, we remain confident that the trend will continue throughout 2018.”
Richard Frankcom, Client Insight Director at GfK, said: “Merchant sales have outperformed the revised construction figures from the ONS, which fell -2.7% on the previous quarter. They also appear to be bucking the UK consumer’s negative outlook as seen in GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, which was still in the doldrums. However, before we polish these diamonds, we need to see the delayed external work shift into April and then continued growth year on year in May and June. Value growth is great, but price inflation is a factor we cannot ignore and only this continued growth will really give us clarity.”

    Monday, 4 June 2018

    Brick sales figures for Q1 2018 stack up well against last years’ figures

    The Brick Development Association reports increased growth for the industry in 2018, in response to growing demand.

    According to the latest ONS figures, the industry produced 7% more bricks in the first quarter of 2018 than in the same quarter last year, building on the ten-year high of two billion bricks delivered during 2017.

    An average lead time of 11 weeks according to The Mace Business School 2018, stacks up well with other product groups that supply the construction sector, and represents a well-managed supply.

    Ibstock Brick’s recently completed factory, which will produce 100 million bricks per year, and Forterra’s plans to redevelop their Desford site with capacity expected to increase by a further 95 million bricks per year, demonstrate significant investments on the part of UK brick manufacturers.

    Tom Farmer from the Brick Development Association, said: “British brick manufacturers continue to invest in increased capacity in order to serve what we expect to be a buoyant housebuilding sector through 2018 and beyond.

    "There are approximately 2,500 product lines offered in the UK, which provide choice and quality suitable for the broad range of new residential developments we need to build, alongside the requirements of those operating in the repair, maintenance and improvement market.

    “It is important that developers, contractors and specifiers engage with their manufacturers early in the project lifecycle to ensure that their specific requirements are met. Imports – primarily from Europe – continue to fulfil their important role of satisfying just-in-time orders, as do bricks in stock here in the UK. However, for those with particular requirements, whether they be to satisfy planning permissions or the preferences of self-builders, the earlier the specification and scheduling process begin, the smoother the process will be.”

    Image: Shutterstock

    Saturday, 2 June 2018

    CPA Responds to Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety

    The Construction Products Association (CPA) has welcomed the publication of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

    The CPA was very involved in the findings of the Review and were asked to Chair:

    • Working Group 3: Regulations and Guidance

    and also contribute to:

    • Working Sub-Group 1 & 2: Golden Thread
    • Working Group 6: Quality Assurance and Products.

    Dr Diana Montgomery, Construction Products Association Chief Executive, said: “The Independent Review led by Dame Judith Hackitt has outlined the clear responsibilities necessary to ensure a disaster like this can never happen again. The Construction Products Association fully supports the Review’s recommendations and looks forward to continuing our work with government, our members and the construction industry to roll out the implementation programme.”

    Peter Caplehorn, Construction Products Association Deputy Chief Executive and Chair of the Review’s Regulations and Guidance Working Group, added: “This is an important chance for the entire construction industry to show we are ready for an overhaul of how high-rise, high-risk buildings are designed and built, and ultimately how we are held to account. Any reforms which can provide greater clarity on how buildings meet safety requirements and the technical attributes of the products that go into them are much needed. Furthermore, the recommendations’ emphasis on creating a digital record of a construction project will go a long way to addressing the impact of product substitution and value engineering, quality of training and poor installations.”

    Recommendations of the report include:

    Focus: the Review has focused its recommendations on buildings where there is a high level of risk to human safety in the event of the building being dangerous or catching fire. The primary focus is on high rise residential accommodation, but the Review also notes there are other types of buildings where there are risks due to people sleeping overnight, such as hospitals and residential care homes. It proposes a new regulatory regime to cover these buildings.

    New Regulatory Body: this is not proposing structural changes to existing organisations, but ensuring a more effective integration of the functions currently undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive, the local authority building control functions and the fire brigades, to ensure that there is greater co-ordination and communication about high-rise residential buildings. The Review also supports the use of digital technologies to provide comprehensive information about buildings and to help to manage these throughout their life cycle.

    New regulatory framework: this will aim to ensure both that designs are safe and that what was designed and specified is actually built, with limited scope to change this, and any changes to the agreed brief requiring approval. This will apply to both new build and major refurbishment projects.

    Duty Holder: this will create a requirement for a named individual to be responsible for ensuring building safety during every phase of the lifecycle of a building, from design through to management whilst it is occupied, with clear points of transition for the handing over of responsibilities between the designer, contractor and owner.

    Construction Product Safety: this makes proposals for a tighter testing regime, the disclosure of test data and more information about products, and a requirement for the regular retesting of construction products to ensure safety. How this should be delivered remains open, including the possibility responsibility could be given to the Office of Product Safety.

    Resident’s Concerns: there are recommendations on ensuring resident’s concerns can be easily raised, and how these can be escalated to the new regulator if a building owner does not act on them.

    Competency: this aims to ensure there will be an increased emphasis on safety in professional and occupational training for those in occupations relating to fire safety or who need a knowledge of this to undertake their roles within the new system, working with the organisations that lead on professional and vocational training.

    Photo: Shutterstock

    Monday, 28 May 2018

    High performance products drive value growth in the UK building boards market

    The market for building boards in the UK was estimated to be worth just over £1.1bn at manufacturers selling prices in 2017 states a new report from AMA Research. 

    Products included in AMA’s definition are; rigid and semi-ridged polymer boards, gypsum plasterboards and specialist building boards.

    The building boards market showed substantial growth between 2014 and 2016, with average annual rates of 6%, however, 2017/18 has seen some slowing of growth in construction activity leading to more modest growth in demand for building boards.

    Demand for rigid polymer insulation, drylining and specialist boards is largely driven by developments in new housing, commercial newbuild and, to a lesser extent, domestic
    extensions, loft conversions and non-domestic refurbishment. In 2017, demand was impacted by some slowing down in housebuilding growth rates and non-residential new work, particularly in the offices sector, in large part due to the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process that has affected the timing of business investment decisions.

    As a result, volume sales of building boards have been constrained, contributing towards a slowdown in overall sales growth in 2017. However, this relatively low volume growth has been partly offset by a rise in average prices due to a shift towards higher specification drylining, thermal insulation and fire protection boards. This, in turn, is being driven by ever tighter building regulation requirements and the need for products offering higher levels of performance with regards to fire safety and building insulation - both thermal and acoustic.

    Factors driving market growth include the trend towards specifying more value-added, higher performance, products in preference to standard alternatives and the increasing use of newer methods of accelerated construction, including timber frame building and offsite modular construction, which favour the use of higher performance insulation, lining or sheathing boards.

    In terms of end use applications, it is estimated that nearly half of all boards are used as permanent partitions in commercial and public access buildings, and internal walls in dwellings, with nearly a third used for the internal faces of outside walls, mostly on new dwellings. There is also a significant volume of boards supplied direct to manufacturers of offsite building systems. These include suppliers of volumetric units and closed panel timber frame and steel frame systems whereby drylining and sheathing boards are fixed at the point of manufacture.

    Specialist distributors account for the largest distribution share of the building boards market, and primarily supply products direct to the trade for commercial and volume housebuilding schemes, although they also supply smaller builders’ merchants. Builders’ merchants account for the next largest market share and mainly depend on sales to the trade operating within the RMI and small building sectors. The direct sales sector also has a notable share, mainly comprising of offsite manufacturers they predominantly supply timber and light steel building systems and volumetric modular buildings.

    Forecasts are for steady growth of around 3% per annum through to 2022, reflecting modest growth prospects in the construction industry. This assumption is based on indications that demand for value-added boards and accelerated construction methods will continue to increase, but that overall market growth will remain modest. However, impacts from political or economic events, particularly those relating to the UK’s departure from the EU, mean that the prospects for construction output remain clouded by uncertainty.

    The ‘Building Boards Market Report – UK 2018-2022’ report is available now and can be
    ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

    Wednesday, 16 May 2018

    Job in Focus: National Sales Job for Heating Products to M&E - £70k

    Our latest Job in Focus is a National Field Sales Executive role for Heating Products with a £70k OTE.

    You will be responsible for selling a range of heating systems dealing with a range of specifiers including M&E consultants, architects and main contractors.

    Our Construction & Building Industry Job in Focus feature takes a detailed look at some of the fantastic sales & marketing construction and building materials job vacancies currently on our books. 

    Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


    Job Title: Field Sales Executive
    Job Ref: J10401
    Product: Heating & Plumbing
    Location: National
    Salary: £50k

    Manufacturer of heating products. Selling to architects, M&E consultants and contractors

    Package: Up to £50K with £70K OTE. Company Car, Mobile, Laptop, Pension. 

    Employer: Innovative manufacturer of heating products. Leading brand name with an excellent culture and personal development opportunities. 

    Job Description: You will be responsible for marketing the client's range of heating systems dealing with a range of specifiers including M&E consultants, architects and main contractors and following projects through to order. 

    Area: National role with a London focus - Candidates will ideally live around the south-east i.e. Hertford, Dartford, Guildford, Reading etc. as you will spend the majority of your time in London. 

    Person: We are seeking a proven specification professional with strong consultant and architects contacts. The ideal candidate will come from a heating product background but the client is open to any mechanical or electrical product background. 

    For further information or to discuss your career options contact Luke Rootham on 01480 405225 or apply online.

    Tuesday, 15 May 2018

    UK Construction growth rises at its fastest pace for five months!

    Some great news! Growth in the UK construction sector rose at the fastest pace in five months in April as it rebounded from March’s snow disruptions.

    The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index climbed to 52.5 in April, up from March’s 20-month low of 47 and against the neutral reading of 50.

    Residential work was by far the best-performing category, expanding at the fastest pace since May 2017, while commercial and civil engineering recorded modest returns to growth.

    There was a renewed rise in new order volumes in April but the rate of new business expansion was only marginal, with anecdotal evidence of heightened economic uncertainty and subdued confidence.

    Supply chain pressures remained marked with low stocks and shortages of transport capacity contributing to a further lengthening of delivery times for construction materials.

    Input cost inflation was unchanged from March’s 20-month low, with reports that higher fuel and steel costs pushed up operating expenses.

    Duncan Brock, group customer relationship director at CIPS, said: “The effects of the previous month’s bad weather were echoed in April as supply chains stayed under the cosh again. Besieged by raw material stock shortages and capacity difficulties, suppliers tried to catch up on their delivery commitments with limited success. Transportation times were still lengthy for construction materials for projects already in the pipeline.”