Monday, 29 May 2017

House-building at its highest for a decade in England

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has revealed that the number of new build dwellings started in England in the year to March 2017 stood at 162,880, a 15% increase on the same period a year ago.  Private starts were up 18% year on year and housing association starts up 1%, according to new government statistics.

The annual total is the highest since 2007, 152% above the trough in the March quarter of 2009. However starts are still 12% below their March quarter 2007 peak.

In the first three months of this year, seasonally adjusted starts stood at 43,170, up 21% on the same quarter last year and up 3% on the last quarter. Of these 36,470 were private starts – 22% up year on year.

The figures also show that 147,960 new build dwellings were completed in the year to March 2017, which is 6% higher than in the year to March 2016. Private enterprise new build dwelling completions were 9% higher than the previous year, whilst completions by housing associations decreased by 5% on an annual basis. 

The number of new homes being built in England is at its highest level for ten years, according to government figures.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

New report reveals the challenges faced by small house builders

New research from the National House Building Council Foundation says that some small house builders are being hindered by delays and rising costs in the planning system and this is causing some to leave the industry.

The report - Small house builders and developers: current challenges to growth – shows that a third of small builders wait more than a year for local authority planning approval, whilst nearly 80% have endured a significant rise in planning-related fees over the past two years.

Information has come from almost 500 companies who typically build less than ten homes a year, the NHBC Foundation has revealed the conditions that small house builders face. Another sizeable barrier is the lack of viable land; 37% of respondents cite a shortage of available land at a suitable price as their most serious obstacle to growth.

Finance availability is a significant concern for 20% of respondents, although the NHBC Foundation said that this issue “has improved in the last two years, with more small builders obtaining finance from banks or private sources.”

Encouragingly, the report also finds that 58% of small builders are optimistic about the future of the industry.

In the report, the NHBC Foundation makes a number of recommendations for the government and the industry to address the hurdles small house builders face and help bolster this part of the sector. These include a call for the government to speed up decision making in the planning system, reduce inconsistencies and provide a clear tariff system; and increase the availability of smaller sites suitable for schemes of up to ten homes.

Neil Smith, NHBC’s head of research and innovation, said: “The increasing complexity, time taken to achieve a decision, and the unpredictability and inconsistency within the planning process are slowing the delivery of new homes and, in some cases, causing companies to leave this market.”

Thursday, 18 May 2017

New Job in Focus: National Specification Manager for Commercial/Industrial Flooring - £60k +

Our latest Job in Focus is National Specification Manager role selling industrial flooring with a potential £60k + packageYou would manage a field sales team of 3 selling commercial/industrial flooring via specification to architects, civil engineers and main contractors.

Ideally you would be based in Midlands/North. 

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. 

Have you read our feature on specification sales? Find out more here>>


Job Title: National Specification Manager
Job Ref: J8942
Product: Industrial Flooring
Location: North & North East
Salary: £60k + OTE plus benefits
Sector: Management

Manufacturer of commercial flooring solutions. Managing a field sales team of 3. 

Package: Up to £50K with £60K+ OTE. Company Car, Mobile, Laptop, Pension. 

Company: A fantastic international manufacturer within the industrial & commercial flooring market. An innovative business with a market leading product and excellent opportunities for growth. 

Job: National Sales Manager - You will be tasked with implementing an effective sales strategy to secure consistent growth within the business. Managing the team 3 in specification led roles dealing with architects, civil engineers, main contractors. You will also have responsibility for your own main contractor key accounts. 

Area: Managing the sales team nationally however due to the location of the key accounts the candidates needs to live in the Midlands or North i.e. Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria, County, Durham, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland. Candidates will ideally live Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool. 

Person: We are seeking a proven man-manager with experience of a structural building product such as industrial flooring, coatings, aggregates, concrete products etc. The ideal candidate will also have experience of selling via specification although this is not essential. 

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

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

UK electrical wholesale market to grow by 14% over the next 5 years

In 2016, the electrical wholesalers market was estimated to have grown by 4% compared with 2015. And it forecast to grow 14% over the next five years.

Following a period of consistent growth since 2013, supported by a strengthening economy and improved construction output, growth is estimated to have slowed in 2016 as uncertainty about the impact of ‘Brexit’ constrained construction output, raw material prices declined, and Government austerity measures continued to restrain public sector markets. These factors are expected to continue to limit the market growth somewhat in 2017/18.

There are plenty of factors supporting the market however, including growth in specialist markets, product development, demand for additional services and non-core products, and evolving legislation leading to a requirement for higher specification and new products, in addition to an improving economic and construction background and improved consumer confidence. Wholesalers’ margins have also continued to improve over the past 2-3 years.

Factors currently affecting market growth negatively include continued public sector budget constraints, uncertainty over the outcome of a Brexit process, price competition with many products in the mature phase of their life cycle, threat from competitive channels and longer product life-spans reducing the replacement market. The decision to significantly reduce Feed in Tariffs, is also impacting negatively on the renewables sector, a market that had offered good potential to wholesalers.

Cables and lighting remain the largest product sectors within the electrical wholesale market, accounting for almost 50% of the value of products sold. Product sectors experiencing relatively good performance in the current market include electrical accessories such as cable systems, circuit protection and wiring accessories as well as lighting and newer product areas such as smart control and automation, with product development primarily driven by environmental concerns, renewable energy issues and energy efficiency, motivating demand for more efficient products and more sophisticated control and testing equipment.

Electrical wholesalers remain market leaders in the distribution of electrical products and are particularly strong in core product areas such as electrical accessories and lighting equipment. Whilst the wholesalers’ share of lighting is currently marginally down on historical levels as newer LED technology has a higher proportion of direct sales, this is unlikely to be a long-term trend, with wholesalers expanding LED ranges and gaining knowledge and experience in the field.

“The electrical wholesaler market continues to be dominated by three large companies, which together account for the majority share of the market” said Keith Taylor, Director of AMA Research. 

“However, some newer entrants to the electrical wholesaler market, which offer a multi-channel approach coupled with more transparent pricing, have seen rapid share growth in recent years, and could potentially threaten the hold of the ‘Big three’ in the future.”

The wholesalers also face significant competition from the direct sales and specialist distributor channel, as well as internet retailers, merchants and electronic component distributors.

The electrical wholesaler market is expected to continue to grow in the short to medium term, although at a more modest rate, with current forecasts for construction output more cautious due to the uncertainty of the outcome of Brexit and continued restrictions in the public sector. From 2017, average growth levels of 2-3% per annum, with overall growth between 2016-2021 of 14%, is forecast. Obviously, the withdrawal from the European Union will have an impact on the overall economy and the construction industry, though quite what this impact will be remains to be seen.  Price increases will also have an impact.

Going forward, electrical wholesalers are expected to continue to widen product portfolios, introduce additional value-added services and embrace e-commerce to become more flexible and remain competitive. The development of niche product sectors will provide an opportunity to add value and differentiate on a basis other than cost, reducing price sensitivity.

The ‘Electrical Wholesale Market Report – UK 2017-2021 Analysis’ report is published by AMA Research, a leading provider of market research and consultancy services with over 25 years’ experience in the construction and home improvement markets. The report is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

Pic: Shutterstock. See here.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Read the Construction Products Association's survey on Q1 of 2017

The industry reported a strong start to 2017 with increases in sales, output and workloads in Q1 driven by increased demand, according to the Construction Products Association’s (CPA) Construction Trade Survey Q1, which also painted a positive picture for 2017 with companies reporting an optimistic outlook for the year ahead.

However, weak activity in the industrial and commercial sectors resulted in main building contractors experiencing a decrease in activity, with 31% reporting that construction output fell in the first quarter of 2017 compared with a year ago. In addition, Q1 order books were reported to be lower across the majority of sectors for both main contractors and civil engineering contractors.

The latest statistics also highlighted that the past depreciations of Sterling continue to exert upward pressure on input costs across the industry. An increase in overall costs was reported by 84% of civil engineering contractors, whilst 86% of main contractors, 93% of heavyside manufacturers and 93% of lightside manufacturers also reported a rise in raw materials costs.

Rebecca Larkin, senior economist at the CPA, said: “Q1 was a positive opener to 2017 for product manufacturers, specialist building contractors and SME builders, continuing the momentum built up over the last four years of growth. For main contractors, however, it was only private sector house building that provided the bright spots of activity during the quarter. Falling orders in the commercial and industrial sectors also spilled over into infrastructure in Q1 and signal a broader weakness ahead.

“Furthermore, in contrast to the continued rise in costs reported during the quarter, particularly for imported raw materials, building contractors’ tender prices are moving in the opposite direction. This suggests that it is margins, rather than clients, that are bearing the brunt of cost inflation.”

Key findings from the survey:

  • 31% of main building contractors, on balance, reported that construction output fell in the first quarter of 2017 compared with a year ago
  • All specialist contractors reported a rise in output during Q1
  • 8% of civil engineers, on balance, reported an increase in workloads during Q1
  • On balance, 21% of SME contractors reported increased workloads in Q1 compared to three months earlier
  • Main contractors reported lower orders in all sectors except private housing
  • 9% of civil engineering firms reported a decrease in new orders in Q1, on balance
  • 40% of SMEs and 50% of specialist contractors reported an increase in enquiries in Q1, on balance
  • Overall costs increased for 84% of civil engineers contractors, while 86% of main contractors, 93% of heavy side manufacturers and 93% of light side manufacturers reported raw materials costs rose in Q1.

Monday, 8 May 2017

UK construction activity bounces back to hit a four-month high!

UK construction activity rose to a four-month high in April according to the latest survey snapshot of the sector, suggesting a reasonable start to the second quarter of 2017 for builders.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 53.1 in the month, up from 52.2 in March and above City analysts' expectations of 52. Any reading above 50 indicates growth.

Civil engineering activity was the highest in a year. House building was at its liveliest since last December according to the survey.

The rate of employment growth was the highest since last May 2016.

However, commercial building remained subdued with a lower reading than in March.

"Commercial work likely will remain depressed by Brexit uncertainty, and labour shortages across the entire construction sector may become more acute as immigration from the EU declines," said Samuel Tombs, an economist at Pantheon.

The construction PMI showed an alarming dip in the immediate wake of last June's Brexit referendum result, but bounced rapidly back. The latest reading follows a better than expected figure.

Photo: Shutterstock

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

UK water heating market to grow by 10% over the next 5 years

The value of the UK water heating market increased by a modest 1% in 2016, according to a news report by AMA Research. The market for domestic and non-domestic water heating products has seen relatively steady growth overall since 2013, with the recovery in the UK economy stimulating construction activity as well as consumer and business confidence levels. In addition, the growing concerns about energy efficiency and the environment have a positive influence on this market. It is forecast that the UK water heating market will increase by around 10% between 2017 and 2021. 

The Water Heating market has been an area where at Pinnacle Consulting we have seen a marked increase in employment and activity over the last 24 months.

The core product sectors of the UK water heating market include hot water storage systems, which account for an estimated 67%, followed by instantaneous water heaters and boiling water heaters and taps. The majority of water heating products are distributed via the trade channels such as builders/plumbers’ merchants, electrical wholesalers and specialist heating distributors. In addition, there are an increasing number of products sold via online retailers or manufacturer’s own websites.

The number of homes with hot water storage has declined significantly in recent years, with the vast majority of new homes now having a mains pressurised system installed as standard - predominantly in the form of an unvented storage cylinder in larger properties, and a combination boiler in smaller to medium properties and apartments. Sales of vented cylinders have declined significantly as a result of this shift, and are now almost entirely installed in replacement applications. Sales of mains pressurised systems have been driven by the increasing level of domestic hot water consumption, influenced by lifestyle factors such as demand for high performance showering and multi-bathroom properties.

The market for instantaneous water heaters has seen some moderate growth more recently, particularly in the commercial sector. However, demand for multi-point instantaneous water heaters has been negatively impacted by the development of the market for combination boilers. This sector is dominated by replacement demand, which is a large, but declining market.

The market for boiling water heaters for hot drinks has seen good growth over the last 5 years, particularly in commercial applications such as offices, staff canteens and factories. In addition, there is an increasingly significant market for boiling water taps in the UK. Trends in the market include; a move towards more energy efficient systems; a growing number of pre-plumbed unvented systems being used in the new build sector; and the introduction and growth of IoT devices in the heating market over the last 2-3 years, with smart heating controls that can manage both the heating and hot water increasingly available.

“Although the market situation in early 2017 is slightly subdued, the current forecast for the UK water heating market remains moderately positive, with more steady growth from 2018 onwards” said Hayley Thornley, Market Research Manager at AMA Research. “Following the UK Brexit vote in mid-2016, the outlook for this market is very much dependent on the path taken to exit the EU and the impact this has on the construction sector and consumer confidence.”

It is forecast that the UK water heating market will increase by around 10% between 2017 and 2021. Aside from economic factors, the future performance of the UK water heating market is likely to be influenced by overall trends in house building and construction, RMI activity, fuel prices, energy efficiency legislation, renewable technologies, levels of personal disposable income and changing patterns of hot water consumption.

The ‘Water Heating Market Report – UK 2017-2021 Analysis’ report is published by AMA Research, a leading provider of market research and consultancy services with over 25 years’ experience within the construction and home improvement markets. The report is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724

Monday, 1 May 2017

May Job in Focus: Regional Operations Manager for Kent/Sussex branches - Building Products (£70k OTE)

Our latest Job in Focus is a rare opportunity to become a Regional Operations Manager for building products distribution branches in the Kent/Sussex region. 

An experienced operations professional is needed to oversee multiple branches. You will have full operational responsibility to help achieve business objectives. £70k OTE

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. 

Have you read our feature on the importance of Operations in the Building Products sector? Find out more here>>


Job Title: Regional Operations Manager
Job Ref: J8924
Product: Building Products
Location: London & South East
Salary: £55k


PACKAGE: up to £55k with £70k OTE, company car, mobile phone, laptop and generous personal benefits too! 

COMPANY: Our client are a fantastic brand in the building product sector who offer a comprehensive range of products, a great environment to work and have excellent progression opportunities. 

ROLE: The Operations manager oversees the operations of the branches within their defined region. In this instance the area covers Kent and Sussex which has a large number of branches .You'll be responsible for the profitability of the business contributing to the development and implementation of strategy and objectives region. You'll provide leadership, support and development to the Branch Managers/Directors and their staff so that they achieve their business objectives. 
You'll have full operational responsibilities for the branches which includes Health & Safety, Stock Management, People development (recruiting, training and rewarding), performance Management, Business Development and Financial performance. 

AREA: Kent & Sussex 

PERSON: You'll have a fantastic attitude and will come from an operations background. Our client isn't too focussed on someone from the industry HOWEVER building product experience is definitely preferred and you must have experience managing multi sites. This role is suited to an existing operations manager but our client will also consider cluster managers too. 

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

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