Monday, 30 October 2017

NHBC announce that registrations reach highest third quarter in a decade

More really positive news for the building industry last week as the NHBC announced that new home registrations saw their highest third quarter total for a decade.

During the July to September period, (Q3 2017) 37,936 new homes were registered, a 6% increase on the same period last year. Of these 29,083 were for the private sector, a 9% increase on Q3 2016.

Meanwhile in the affordable sector, registrations dropped 5% to 8,853 new homes.

NHBC said that seven out of 12 UK regions saw registration growth during Q3 2017 against 2016. Among those with the most significant growth were Scotland which experienced a 50% rise to 3,056 new homes registered, the East Midlands at 42% growth to 3,575, and the North East, seeing registrations improve 34% to 2,078.

But Greater London’s registrations dropped from 3,860 in Q3 2016 to 2,494 during the July to September period this year.

NHBC’s ceo Steve Wood, said: “We have seen encouraging growth in terms of the number of new homes being registered over the last three months, across many parts of the country.

“With demand for high quality new homes as strong as ever, this is positive news for the industry and prospective homebuyers, particularly in light of the current political and economic uncertainties.”

Photograph via Shutterstock: shutterstock_163820348

Thursday, 26 October 2017

BMBI experts discuss the key issues facing the construction industry

Last month the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF) hosted the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) second annual Round Table debate at its offices in Coventry.

The BMBI is a brand of the BMF and the debate was organised for BMBI Experts to discuss topical issues, and the potential implications for our industry.

It was chaired by Builders’ Merchants News Group Editor Jennie Ward and included BMF Chairman Peter Hindle representing builders’ merchants and Mike Rigby CEO of MRA Marketing who produce the BMBI report.   

BMBI Experts taking part included: John Sinfield, Managing Director Knauf Insulation; Nigel Cox, Managing Director Timbmet; Andy Simpson, National Commercial Director Hanson Cement; Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels; John Duffin, Managing Director Keylite Roof Windows; Paul Rivett, Managing Director Heatrae Sadia; Tony France, Sales Director Ibstock; Andy Williamson, Group Managing Director IKO PLC; Malcom Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Natural Paving Products; and Michael White, Business Development Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions.   

The debate covered five main topics: 
  • Digitalisation & Omnichannel selling 
  • Brexit’s effect on the industry
  • Skills, Materials Shortages & Capacity
  • Economy & Inflation
  • Grenfell Tower Fire & the implications   

As last year, the debate was videoed in full and individual topic videos will be available on the BMBI website and shared on LinkedIn and @TheBMBI on Twitter as well as Vimeo and YouTube

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

More positivity for the Builders' Merchant Market

Builders’ merchants’ sales growth continued through summer 2017. Year on year sales were up 5.8% in August, on identical trading days.

Summer months (June, July and August) were 5.5% ahead of the same period in 2016. Ironmongery (+10.9%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+10.7%) did best.

BMBI data is released monthly and is a unique data source available for builders’ merchant sector sales to builders. It’s the most reliable indicator of RMI housing.

The Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) tracks builders’ merchants’ actual sales to builders and contractors using GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data. The BMBI represents over 80% of the value of the builders’ merchants’ market. period in 2016. Ironmongery (+10.9%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+10.7%) did best.

Interested in a job in the builders merchant sector?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Prospects for the UK Builders and Plumbers Merchants market cautiously optimistic

It is estimated that the UK builders and plumbers merchants’ market will see growth of 2% in 2017, compared with 2016, in value terms. The end use sectors of the merchants’ market have fared differently reflecting each sectors’ construction performance. However, most end-use sectors have experienced growth since 2013 stimulating demand for merchants’ products, with key sectors including housebuilding, offices, infrastructure, industrial and education.

The merchants remain an important distribution channel in the overall construction market. However, the merchants’ market has undergone some significant structural changes, with many national operations consolidating and restructuring to streamline and enhance multi- channel offerings, and the regional sector has expanded branch networks. The market is currently dominated by a group of 5 organisations, that together account for an estimated 75% share of the market, by value.

Builders and plumbers merchants offer an extensive range of products, although traditional building materials dominate the product mix. Competition from other channels, particularly the internet and home improvement multiples, continues to impact on the market. However, merchants appear to have outperformed home improvement multiples in recent years and their expansion into e-commerce has offset some of the movement towards internet-only distributors.

The role played by buying groups continues to be important, particularly for regional and local merchants, as considerable benefits can be derived by membership. This sector has also undergone changes with some of the leading organisations merging in recent years.

“Prospects for the merchants’ market remain optimistic, although cautious, with confidence in the continued recovery of the UK economy positive but tempered by the uncertainty of the outcome of Brexit negotiations” said Fiona Watts, Editor of AMA Research.

“Drivers in the residential sector include under-investment in the housing stock in terms of new build requirements and the age of the current dwellings, which has stimulated expenditure on RMI activity, and the continued confidence in the new housebuilding sector in terms of starts, forward reservations, completions and average prices.”

The cost of fuel and energy as well as the volatility of the exchange rate of Sterling against both the US Dollar and the Euro are also likely to drive up prices, causing the market value to increase. Growth in the builders and plumber merchants market is likely to be moderate over the next 3-4 years, with growth rates of 2-3% per year forecast by AMA Research until 2021.

Builders merchant sales jobs>>

New opportunities may arise from the demand for greater sustainability in construction materials and materials with a low-carbon footprint. Investment in online and mobile websites - in terms of improvements to product offering, availability and ordering process, as well as overall customer service - may also contribute towards growth. It is likely that those companies that embrace online selling and service will see higher growth than those that stick with a more traditional approach.

The ‘Builders and Plumbers Merchants Market Report – UK 2017-2021 Analysis’ 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.

Friday, 20 October 2017

New Job in Focus: UK Director for KBB Porcelain Tiles - £60k + 20% OTE

Our new Job in Focus is for a National UK Director working for a high-end porcelain tiles and bathroom products manufacturer. You could earn £60k plus 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: UK Director
Job Ref: J9484
Product: Ceramic Tiles
Location: National but ideally West Midlands based
Salary: £60k + bonus

UK Director vacancy working for a high end porcelain tiles and bathroom products manufacturer 

Basic Salary £50,000 to £60,000 plus 20% bonus, company car, phone, laptop, 30 days holidays and pension. 

Role: UK Director - This role is vital for our client as they are looking for a candidate that will be given the task of growing its UK Business. This person will be fully responsible for our clients business in the UK which will include everything from management and recruitment of the sales, admin and warehouse staff, HR responsibilities, marketing, business strategy and general business management on a day to day basis. You will be supported by our clients head office and work closely with senior members of the management team in Europe. 

Location: National Coverage but ideally in West Midlands, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Leicestershire or Worcestershire 

Candidate: Our client is looking for candidate who have a background of managing a sales team as well as being involved in all other aspects of running a business with in the tile and bathroom or closely related product sectors.

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

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

New industry awards for Builders' Merchant Sector

A new industry-wide awards scheme for the Merchant sector has been launched by Datateam Business Media, publishers of Builders Merchants Journal.

Culminating with a gala celebration in London in May 2018, these prestigious awards aim to celebrate and reward talent and achievement throughout the industry, from merchant branches to supplier brands.

“In the 10 years we have been at the forefront of publishing to the merchanting industry, we have learned that the most important part of the any industry is the people and the brands that they promote,” said editor-in-chief, Fiona Russell Horne.

In a break from the traditional format, these industry awards will be voted for by the entire industry, via a super-secure online portal, rather than a judging panel.

“Entries are now open and our aim is to reflect the massive pool of talent we have out there, celebrating the brands, names and businesses that keep the merchant sector thriving,” Russell Horne continued. "It's already resonated with suppliers as I'm thrilled to report that some of the indury's best-loved names have already come on board with us as sponsors, namely, Marshalls, Stonemarket, Marsh Industries, H+H and BA Clic Components."

There are three sections; ‘Brands’, ‘Merchants’ and ‘People’. The ‘Brands’ section covers a range of different sectors; from plumbing to heavy sides, timber to landscaping, kitchens to bathrooms, roofing to heating.

If you are looking for a new job in the merchant sector, find out more here>>

New, independent, multiple and online merchants will have their chance to shine too, with categories for each. The ‘Merchants’ section has awards for  ‘best marketing campaign’ and ‘best showroom’ as well as a ‘rising star’ award for stand-out achievements at regional and national level.

The ‘People Awards’ meanwhile, are designed to recognise those who go above and beyond in the pursuit of excellence. The categories are: ‘Industry Personality of the Year’, ‘Best Customer Service’ and ‘Best Sales Rep’.

Full details of how to enter and how to vote are on the dedicated awards website

Monday, 16 October 2017

Shout it from the rooftops! The UK roofing market sees growth of 7% !

The overall UK roofing market grew by 7% in value terms in 2016, according to a new report by AMA Research. Since 2012, demand for roof coverings has been supported by the growth of housebuilding and domestic RMI, along with increased output in a number of commercial and industrial new build & refurbishment markets.

However, tendering for commercial and housebuilding roofing projects has remained highly competitive, and year on year performance has varied.

Overall market trends are largely determined by levels of demand for concrete roof tiles and metal panel systems, which together accounted for around half of total sales in 2016. While concrete tiles are predominantly used on commercial buildings, the main source of increasing demand has been volume housebuilding. Demand for roof tiles and slates is relatively lower within the commercial and industrial newbuild & major re-roofing and RMI sectors, with flat roofing and metal roofing systems being used to an increasing extent.

Distribution of roofing materials varies significantly between different product sectors. Builders’ merchants and roofing merchants are the key routes to market for suppliers of concrete and clay tiles, while independent importers and distribution networks are the main channels in the roofing slates sector, as the majority of products are imported. With flat roofing systems mainly used on commercial buildings, the main channels are roofing merchants and direct sales, while direct supply from the manufacturer is the main route to market for profiled metal roofing projects, which often require bespoke design, structures and close collaborations with manufacturers.

Several factors are threatening the construction market, and are likely to have a knock-on effect for the roofing market. Uncertainty following Brexit and the general election result appears to be undermining confidence within the UK construction industry at present, with Q2 2017 state of trade data from the Construction Products Association and ONS new orders and output statistics, suggesting major investors are starting to hold off from funding major commercial and industrial construction projects. Since 2015, an acceleration in the shortage of skilled roofers, which is likely to be exacerbated by the Brexit issue and a potential reduction of EU workers, has resulted in a demand for higher wages and contributed towards an overall reduction in margins.

Sales Jobs in the roofing sector >>

However, there are also a number of positive factors supporting the UK’s roofing market. A significant share of roofing materials goes into RMI and replacement projects, which support the market even during difficult economic times. The markets for EPDM and other types of single ply membranes (SPMs) have grown strongly over the last half dozen years, also taking some share from bitumen sheets within the commercial sector.

Keith Taylor, Director at AMA research, said: “The housebuilding market remains very positive in the sense that demand levels are high, and the Government has indicated that it wants to support the affordable sector with various schemes, something which should have a positive impact on the roofing sector. In addition, a large part of the roofing sector is driven by repair and maintenance and as such the market value has good support, even if the wider construction market turns more negative.”
Bearing these factors in mind, we forecast a stabilisation in demand for roofing products through to 2021, with more positive market growth in the latter part of the forecast period, reflecting some improvement in confidence and the economy as the impact of the EU exit settles down. As such the overall market is forecast grow by a very modest 4% between 2016 and 2021.

The ‘Roofing 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.

Image from Shutterstock: shutterstock_366411191

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Good news as private housing demand drives builders' merchant sales growth

New data released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) presents positive view of the construction industry, which is good to see after some rather negative claims in recent weeks, particularly from data released from the ONS.

Despite the ONS claiming that “construction output contracted by 0.8% in the three month on three month series in August 2017” builders’ merchants, who supply materials to the construction industry, saw sales increase by 5.8% in August compared with the same month last year. Additionally, August sales were 1.1% ahead of July, helped by one extra trading day.

The BMF’s and ONS data both agree though that their is growth in private housing and that this is having a positive impact on the construction industry.

The BMF figures are contained in the ‘Builders Merchants Building Index' which tracks builders’ merchants’ actual sales using GfK data. The index shows growth over the past twelve months (September 2016 to August 2017) which was 4.6% higher than the previous year.

The data also states that year to date sales have strengthened and are 4.5% ahead of the same period in 2016. Ironmongery (+7.4%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+7.0%) were the leading performers.

The continued robust sales figures achieved by builders merchants show that, despite some predictions of a recession in the construction industry, Britain’s building materials supply chain is performing well, supporting both new housebuilding and housing renovation.

They also state that it shows demand from households to renovate their property, as shown by Kitchen and Bathroom sales being 11.1% higher in August compared to the same time last year.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “Our latest figures show that builders’ merchants are delivering the building blocks for growth and supporting housebuilding across the country. Demand has also been fuelled by families wanting to repair, extend or adapt their homes However, there are signs that consumer confidence is slowing due to concerns over inflation which may impact private housing renovation once current projects are completed.

“In the light of this, we are pleased that the Government made further commitments to housebuilding last week. Our members are ready to work with local authorities, developers and consumers to get the right materials in the right place to build the homes the country needs.”

Would you like a Sales Job in the builders merchant sector? >>>

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Where is the new work in the Construction Industry?

September data revealed a difficult month for the UK construction sector, as a sustained drop in new work led to the first reduction in overall business activity since August 2016. Survey respondents attributed the drop in workloads to fragile confidence and subdued risk appetite among clients, especially in the commercial building sector.
The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) registered 48.1 in September, down from 51.1 in August and below the crucial 50.0 no-change threshold for the first time in 13 months. The latest reading signalled the fastest decline in overall construction output since July 2016.

Lower volumes of construction work reflected marked falls in both commercial and civil engineering activity during September. The reduction in civil engineering work was the steepest for almost four-and-a-half years, which some firms linked to a lack of new infrastructure projects to replace completed contracts.

The latest decline in work on commercial development projects was the second-sharpest since February 2013 (exceeded only by the post-EU referendum dip seen last July). Survey respondents widely commented on a headwind from political and economic uncertainty, alongside extended lead times for budget approvals among clients. 

House building was the only broad area of construction activity to register an expansion in September. However, growth momentum eased to a six-month low amid reports citing worries about less favourable market conditions ahead.    

New business volumes dropped for the third month running in September, thereby suggesting a continued shortage of work to replace completed construction projects. Aside from the downturn seen around the EU referendum last year, the  current period of decline is the longest recorded since early-2013. More subdued demand led to another fall in sub-contractor usage and a relatively weak rate of job creation among construction firms during September.   

Input buying decreased for the first time in six months, largely in response to reduced workloads across the sector. Lower demand for materials helped to alleviate some strain on supply chains, as delivery times from vendors lengthened to the lowest extent since November 2016. Construction companies continued to face headwinds from rising input costs, with higher prices for imported materials helping to drive up inflationary pressures to a seven-month high.   
Fragile demand conditions appeared to weigh on construction firms’ expectations for growth in the next 12 months. The latest survey indicated that business optimism eased to its second-lowest since April 2013. A number of firms cited concerns about UK business investment prospects, linked to uncertainty around the path to Brexit.

Tim Moore, Associate Director at IHS Markit and author of the IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI®:“A shortfall of new work to replace completed projects has started to weigh heavily on the UK construction sector. Aside from the soft patch linked to spending delays around the EU referendum,  construction companies have now experienced their longest period of falling workloads since early-2013.

“Fragile client confidence and reduced tender opportunities meant that growth expectations across the UK construction sector are also among the weakest for four-and-a-half years. At the same time, cost pressures have intensified, driven by supply bottlenecks and rising prices for imported materials. 

“Commercial development has been the worst performing category in recent months. Construction firms attributed falling volumes of commercial work to subdued business investment and reduced risk appetite among clients, linked to heightened economic and political uncertainty. 

“Civil engineering work decreased at its fastest pace since April 2013, which prompted concerns from survey respondents about a near-term lack of new infrastructure projects. “House building slipped down a gear in September, which highlighted that fragile confidence has spread across all three key market segments. Some firms suggested that the loss of momentum for residential construction reflected worries about the outlook for ultra-low mortgage rates and less upbeat demand expectations.” 

Duncan Brock, Director of Customer Relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said:“A dismal picture of construction emerged this month as the sector showed signs of worsening business conditions across the board. With the biggest contraction in overall activity since July 2016, and a drop in new orders, optimism was in short supply.

“Respondents pointed to obstructive economic conditions and the Brexit blight of uncertainty, freezing clients into indecision over new projects. Even housing, the stalwart of the construction sector stuttered with a dwindling performance, but civil engineering was the biggest victim falling to its weakest level for four and a half years.

“The contagion continued all along the supply chain as material shortages placed a strain on delivery times and increased commodity prices were affected by the weak pound. Despite a marginal increase in employment figures, this wasn’t enough to dispel the descending autumnal gloom where it is unclear where any major shift in momentum for the sector will come in the next few months.”

Image from Shutterstock

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Spotlight on the housing industry is set to intensify

The spotlight on the housing industry is set to intensify with the government reiterating its commitment to housing as a key priority, Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman said at last weeks' Housebuilder’s Housing Market Intelligence conference.
Baseley highlighted the Prime Minister Theresa May’s willingness to stake her legacy on fixing the housing market, as stated in her conference speech yesterday.

“If you thought the heat on the industry was hot, it’s going to get even hotter,” he said.

Baseley also talked through the myriad challenges that the industry faces, including quality and leasehold issues, skills and the decline of SME housebuilders. “If we could get back to 2007 levels of SME numbers, that would produce 25,000 more homes,” he said.

He also defended the Help to Buy scheme, to which the government has pledged an extra £10 billion. “I firmly believe it has done exactly what it set out to achieve,” he said, pointing out that the scheme was launched as a result of lenders being required by regulation to insist on deposits for homes of 20%. 

Also speaking at the conference, Nick Walkley, ceo of the Homes and Communities Agency, outlined the key roles of the new Homes England which will launch at the end of this month.

“These are opportune but challenging times,” Walkley said. “It’s about identifying where the opportunities are, flexing the tools we have and making the case for new tools.

“Creating Homes England gives us a chance to review our relationships to tackle the broken housing market.”

Monday, 2 October 2017

UK Construction Week is almost here!

UK Construction Week is the UK's largest construction trade event and it is now getting very close! Make sure you make some space in your busy schedule to visit and you'll see just how positive our industry still is. 

It is taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 10 – 12 October 2017, the event unites over 650 exhibitors with an audience of over 30,000 trade visitors.

The multi award-winning UK Construction Week (UKCW) is FREE to attend for trade visitors and consists of nine incredible and unique shows: Timber Expo, Build Show sponsored by Easy-Trim, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2017, Smart Buildings 2017, Surface & Materials Show and HVAC 2017 running from 10-12 October and Grand Designs Live which is open to the trade on 11-12 October.

Make sure you register today here>>