Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Job in Focus July 2018: National Sales Manager for Heavyside Building Products - £65k OTE

Our latest Job in Focus for July is managing a team of 10 (internal/external sales) to develop sales strategy for ambitious growth selling heavyside building products. You would be targeting merchants and contractors. OTE is £65k.

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: National Sales Manager
Job Ref: J10697
Product: Heavyside
Location: National
Salary: £50k

Distributor of heavyside building products. National Sales Manager role with a team of 5. 

Package: Up to £50K with realistic £15k bonus. Company Car, Fuel card, Mobile, Laptop and Pension. 

Employer: Ambitious and rapidly growing distributor within the sector. Fantastic business with a vibrant and innovative culture. 

Job Description: Fantastic opportunity created through the continued success of the business. Managing the internal and external sales force implementing and developing a sales strategy to match the ambitious growth opportunities of the business. You will have direct responsibility for the 5 area sales managers as well as 5 further in the sales office targeting merchants and contractors across the UK. 

Area: National role and will require national travel. The ideal candidate will be based in the North West but this is not essential. 

Person: We are seeking proven field sales managers with experience of running a decent sized team within the heavyside market. Looking for candidates who have experience running teams selling to merchants or contractors. 

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

Monday, 16 July 2018

ONS figures show that Construction growth is at its fastest monthly rate for 2 years

More good news for the UK's Construction sector as ONS figures published last week show that construction output increased 2.9% month-on-month in May.

This was the fastest monthly growth rate in two years, reflecting an uptake in activity following adverse weather conditions during the first quarter. Compared to a year earlier, output rose 1.6% but contracted by 1.7% on a rolling three-month basis. This fall captures the £247 million drop in construction work in March during the Beast from the East, however.

Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: “The construction industry appears to have caught up with some of the work lost in February and March due to the freezing ground conditions and snow disruption. Month-on-month gains were evident across all sectors but were strongest in private housing repairs, maintenance and improvement (RM&I), the third largest construction sector, due to warmer weather and longer days.    

Take a look at the latest Construction Sales Jobs

“Private housing new build was 8.4% higher than a year earlier, which points to strength in activity beyond basic catch-up as the industry enters the busier Spring and Summer selling season. However, for the year to date, overall construction output remains 0.3% lower than a year earlier, with particular weakness in public non-housing (mainly education and health) and commercial, where a significant fall in new orders signals smaller pipelines of work.”  

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Construction Products Association Responds to Construction Sector Deal

The department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy announced today a new joint government-industry Sector Deal worth £420 million to transform construction through innovative technologies to increase productivity and build new homes quicker with less disruption.

The government is bringing together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to deliver innovative approaches that improve productivity in construction and accelerate a shift to building safer, healthier and more affordable places to live and learn that use less energy.

Included within the announcement was a reference to the Construction Products Association’s work that will allow accurate, repeatable, machine-readable product information to be used across the sector. These include work around digital object identifiers and LEXiCON.

View the Construction Sector Deal here.

Responding to the announcement Peter Caplehorn, Construction Products Association Deputy Chief Executive and Policy Director, said: “These are ambitious plans that will improve and modernise the construction sector, whilst providing much-needed reassurance to the supply chain as Brexit-related uncertainty continues to weigh on activity. We welcome government’s recognition of construction as one of the UK’s most important sectors, and construction product manufacturers are at the very heart of its success - with 80% of all products used in the UK being made in the UK, we support nearly every construction project.

“Our sector has already demonstrated where we can spark the ‘bytes and mortar revolution’ through off-site manufacturing and advanced manufacturing technologies that deliver high-quality buildings more quickly and efficiently, boost productivity and make a more interesting offer to our workforce.

“We were also pleased to see the Construction Products Association’s work around LEXiCON and product data referenced in the Sector Deal, as we believe this will be key to ensuring that homes and buildings perform as intended and are safe for those who use them.

“It is promising to see government commit to a long-term vision. Now government and industry must work together to deliver real results on the ground.”

Photo from Shutterstock

Sunday, 8 July 2018

UK construction output growth reaches seven-month high in June

June data revealed a solid expansion of overall construction activity, underpinned by greater residential work and a faster upturn in commercial building. There were also positive signs regarding the near-term outlook for growth, as signalled by the strongest rise in new orders since May 2017 and the largest upturn in input buying for two-and-a-half years. Improved demand for construction materials resulted in longer lead times from suppliers and the most marked increase in input prices since September 2017.

  • House building remains best performing area of activity
  • New orders rise at fastest pace since May 2017
  • Input cost inflation accelerates in June

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) posted 53.1 in June, up from 52.5 in May and above the 50.0 no-change value for the third month running. The latest reading pointed to the sharpest overall rise in construction output since November 2017.

Residential work remained the best performing area of activity. Commercial building also contributed to the stronger overall rise in construction output, with this category of work expanding at the fastest pace since February. At the other end of the scale, civil engineering activity rose only slightly in June, with the rate of growth easing to a three-month low.

Survey respondents noted that a general improvement in client demand had helped to boost construction workloads in June. Reflecting this, latest data indicated a solid rebound in new order volumes following the decline seen during the previous month. The rate of new business growth was the strongest for just over one year in June.

Higher levels of new work contributed to faster increases in employment numbers and purchasing activity during June. The pace of job creation accelerated to its strongest for one year, while the latest rise in input buying was the steepest since December 2015. Construction companies noted that greater purchasing activity reflected new projects starts and, in some cases, forward purchasing of inputs to mitigate forthcoming price rises from suppliers.

Average cost burdens increased at a sharp and accelerated pace in June. The latest increase in input prices was the steepest for nine months, which construction companies attributed to greater transportation costs and higher prices for metals (especially steel). Meanwhile, vendor lead times lengthened again in June, driven by low stocks and capacity constraints among suppliers.

UK construction companies indicated a rebound in business optimism from May’s seven-month low, although the degree of positive sentiment remained much weaker than the long-run survey average. Survey respondents cited infrastructure work as a key source of growth in the coming 12 months.

Tim Moore, Associate Director at IHS Markit and author of the IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI® : “The latest increase in UK construction output marks three months of sustained recovery from the snow-related disruption seen back in March. A solid contribution from house building helped to drive up overall construction activity in June, while a lack of new work to replace completed civil engineering projects continued to hold back growth.

“Of the three main categories of construction work, commercial building was sandwiched in the middle of the performance table during June. Survey respondents suggested that improved opportunities for industrial and distribution work were the main bright spots, which helped to offset some of the slowdown in retail and office development.

“Stretched supply chains and stronger input buying resulted in longer delivery times for construction materials during June. At the same time, higher transportation costs and rising prices for steel-related inputs led to the fastest increase in cost burdens across the construction sector since September 2017.”

Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “With the fastest rise in new orders since May 2017, it appears the brakes are off for the construction sector. Despite being hampered by economic uncertainty, firms reported an improved pipeline of work as clients committed to projects and hesitancy was swept away.

“Input prices were a challenge with the biggest inflationary rise since September 2017, so the pressure was on to build up stocks of materials rising in price and becoming more scarce. This resulted in a heavy impact on suppliers unable to keep pace as deliveries became laboured and purchasing managers were at their busiest for two and a half years.

“Housing continued on its positive trajectory for the fifth month and commercial activity also improved after a weak start to the second quarter. However, before we bring out the bunting, the sector is not out of the woods yet and there needs to be further sustainable activity to be convincing. A cloud of uncertainty remains, given the sector’s hit and miss performance so far this year and lower than average business confidence in June.”

Thursday, 5 July 2018

FMB think that Merchants will reap the benefits of a licensed construction trade

Builders’ merchants have been assured that a proposed scheme to licence the UK construction industry will not have a negative impact on them.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has launched a research report setting out the details of the scheme, which it is calling on the government to implement. It says almost 80% of homeowners and builders want ministers to introduce licensing in a bid to “stamp out rogue traders once and for all”.

And speaking exclusively to Builders’ Merchants News at the House of Lords, FMB chief executive Brian Berry (pictured) said that, while merchants wouldn’t be directly affected by any requirement for tradespeople to be licenced, they would benefit from improved consumer confidence in the industry.

He moved to allay fears that a licensing scheme would restrict merchants’ selling opportunities, and called for them to join in the FMB’s campaign to get one implemented.

He acknowledged concerns that merchants would be penalised if they sold building materials to unlicensed tradespeople – that they would be “charged for criminality” – but said those fears were “absolutely wrong”.

He said: “There wouldn’t be any negative impact on merchants. In fact, I think there would be increased sales of materials – one third of homeowners say they have delayed doing work on their homes because they’ve been worried about taking on a rogue trader but if they have the assurance that they can use a licensed builder, that will give them the confidence to go ahead and have the work done.

“No one is going to restrict your market.”

He said the FMB was talking to various trade bodies, including the Builders Merchants Federation, to get their support for a licensing scheme, and he urged merchants to support the proposal.

“Everyone needs to be involved. I very much hope the BMF will be part of the formal consultation that we want to have.”

The report, Licence to build: A pathway to licensing UK construction sets out the benefits of introducing a licensing scheme for the construction industry and proposes a way to make it work. It was launched at a reception at the House of Lords, attended by MPs and construction industry representatives.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP welcomed the proposal, which he said had cross-party support. He said quality construction work was continually being undercut by “cowboy firms” and that regulation was needed to ensure that rogue builders were not “building the slums of tomorrow”.

And construction minister Richard Harrington added: “I’m excited by the future. I welcome this report. There’s a long way to go in terms of consultation but the process started by this report will help us a lot.”

Image: Shutterstock

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Government announces measures to accelerate unsafe cladding removal

The government has announced measures to speed up the process of removing potentially unsafe cladding on private sector high rise residential buildings, after it emerged that the number of tall private buildings thought to be fitted with flammable cladding had risen.

In May, data from the government’s Building Safety Programme showed that 138 private sector residential buildings contained harmful cladding. However, this month’s figures reveal that the number has increased to 297. The cladding status of around 170 private tall buildings is “still to be confirmed”, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.

This comes after the assessment of more than 6,000 buildings by local authorities following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017.

 “Ministers have been clear that building owners are responsible for making buildings safe and local authorities have also started enforcement action in all but a handful of cases to compel them to take action,” MHCLG stated.

Remediation work is underway on 21 of the affected buildings with four complete. The government said it was “determined to accelerate the pace of this work” with its package of measures which include:

  • A new task force to oversee a national programme of private sector remediation and ensure plans are in place “for every single building affected”. Chaired by ministers, members will include Local Government Association (LGA), National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), industry representatives and local authorities that have experienced the greatest impact
  • A new inspection team, comprising experts from environmental health, building control and fire inspection who will provide support to individual councils to make sure building owners act accordingly and accelerate the remediation process
  • An industry roundtable set for July, allowing representatives to present their proposals on solutions to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings without transferring costs to leaseholders. Meanwhile, MHCLG said it would continue to explore other routes for protecting leaseholders.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said: “The safety of residents is my main priority and fire and rescue services are working with building owners to ensure residents are safe now. But I want to see swifter progress in removing unsafe cladding which is why I have announced further action to support councils as they work with owners of high-rise blocks."

Photo: Via Shutterstock 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Job in Focus for July: National Account Manager - selling heavyside products to Saint Gobain

Our new Job in Focus for July is a National Account Manager role selling Heavyside Products to Saint Gobain. You would be negotiating trading agreements & dealing with national/regional directors to secure business. Can you open doors & explore new opportunities? Then please apply...

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: National Accounts Manager
Job Ref: J10481
Product: Heavyside
Location: National
Salary: Negotiable

National Account Manager focusing on Saint Gobain 

PACKAGE: Up to £50,000 basic + 15% Bonus + Excellent Company Benefits including fully expensed premium company car + Private Health + Pension + Excellent secondary benefits. 

EMPLOYER: A long established and leading manufacturer of building products who sell some of the most recognised brands within the industry, They are experiencing tremendous growth and offer excellent opportunities of both personal and career development. 

JOB DESCRIPTION: National Account Manager - Selling our clients full range of heavyside building products, targeting Saint Gobain Account working at a higher level. This role will be negotiating trading agreements, setting up the framework and being in talks with national and regional directors to secure business. This is a well established area for our client, currently performing very well and our client are subsequently seeking a strong account manager with the ability to maintain and develop business. 

LOCATION: Field based role covering the National - Ideally based West Midlands, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire or Nottinghamshire. 

CANDIDATE: Our client really need someone who already talks to and deals with Saint Gobain at a high level, someone who is a strong account manager and can open doors and focus on new avenues. Ideally, you will come from a heavyside product background but the client is open if the successful candidate has the relevant route to market experience. 

For further information or to discuss your career options contact Stuart Entwistle at or call 01480 405 225 or apply online.

Monday, 25 June 2018

NMBS stages highly successful all-industry conference

NMBS, the UK's largest buying society for independent builders', plumbing and heating, timber, and hardware merchants, has staged a highly successful all-industry conference.

More than 500 delegates representing both merchants and suppliers attended the three-day event, which ran from 14 to 17 June at the Grand Hotel Dino on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Baveno, Italy.

Centred around the theme ‘Industry Matters', the conference offered attendees a packed and commercially-focused itinerary designed to encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking.

The conference began with an activity day enabling delegates to acclimatise and relax after their journeys.

Sponsored by IKO and Alumasc Water Management Solutions, the day offered mountain biking or a golf tournament at Golf Club des Iles Borromées.

During the first evening, a welcome dinner was held in the Grand Hotel Dino's Royal and Panorama Gardens. This featured pre-dinner drinks sponsored by Marsh Industries and a buffet dinner sponsored by Dickies.

The conference's business programme started on day two. After a welcome from the conference host, behaviourist, broadcaster, keynote speaker and award-winning author Jez Rose (whose appearance was sponsored by Encon), delegates were given an update on NMBS' current performance and future plans.

Delivered by senior members of the NMBS team, including MD Chris Hayward, FD Julie Langford and Commercial Director Andy Hextall, this outlined how NMBS plans to ‘automate and innovate' to build on its success.

The buying society is aiming to complement its core activities with an increased focus on maximising digital technology and best practice data management in order to achieve a turnover of £3 billion within five years.

Following the NMBS team, a line-up of respected speakers delivered presentations on a variety of topics.

They included:

• Economist Mark Berrisford-Smith, who spoke about the UK and global economic outlook before taking part in a Q&A session.

• Georgie Barrat, tech journalist and presenter of Channel 5's The Gadget Show, who spoke about millennials and how to get the best from this new generation of talent.

• Vit Kutnar, founder and CEO of DEK - the largest distributor of construction materials in the Czech Republic and the second largest in Slovakia. He spoke about the innovative approach that has helped him to take DEK from a standing start to a £650M business in 25 years.

• Neil Munz-Jones, Director and founder of mdj2, who offered insight into digital disruption of the building materials market and how merchants can effectively compete with businesses like Amazon.

• Andy Scothern, MD of eCommonSense, who spoke about effective data management and the tangible impact this can have on commercial success.

• David Meade, keynote speaker, trainer and TV personality, who inspired the audience with his ability to tell people what they were thinking from subtle nuances in behaviour.

• Jez Rose, who spoke about how a small shift in the way we think can deliver enormous benefits in the results we achieve.

A number of these speakers also hosted smaller breakout sessions.

Day three started with a ‘Meet the Merchant' networking session, which proved highly popular with attendees. It enabled them to book ten-minute appointments with contacts.

For merchants it was an effective way to meet existing and potential suppliers and to outline their business needs. For suppliers, meanwhile, it was an opportunity to meet prospective and current customers and to promote the benefits of their offer as well as any new developments.

This was followed by the conference's two keynote speakers.

Kevin Gaskell, whose many notable achievements include leading the turnaround of the UK operations of Porsche and helping BMW (GB) to achieve record growth and a 500% increase in profitability, spoke about inspired leadership and how this can be used to deliver world-class service and achieve business transformation.

Hamish Taylor - who has worked in brand management for P&G (Procter & Gamble), as a management consultant at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), as head of brands at British Airways and as CEO of both Eurostar and Sainsbury's Bank - drew on his experience to speak about his success in helping these businesses to achieve either significant growth or a major turnaround in performance thanks to his willingness to challenge industry and organisational norms.

John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation, announced Dubrovnik as the location of next year's BMF All-Industry Conference, before Jez Rose brought the conference to a close.

In the evening, a gala dinner featured pre-dinner drinks sponsored by HiKoki and dinner sponsored by Crystal. The entertainment consisted of circus acts and a female opera singing trio, while Jeremy Miller made his first address as NMBS' new non-executive chairman.

Commenting on the success of the 2018 All-industry Conference, Hayward said: "We're delighted that this year's event was so well attended and that the feedback received from delegates has been nothing short of exceptional.

"Many of them have praised the conference as being our best to date and also commented favourably on the calibre of the speakers and on the relevancy of their content.

"I would like to thank everyone who made the trip to Baveno and trust that they found the three days to be useful and commercially beneficial. In addition, I'd also like to thank our event partners, First Event, and the NMBS events team for their excellent work in organising everything.

"Finally, our appreciation and gratitude must also go to all the sponsors whose commitment and support help make the conference possible. This includes headline sponsor Makita as well as IKO, Alumasc Water Management Solutions, Encon, Marsh Industries, Dickies, HiKoki and Crystal."

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

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

An illuminating read: 44% increase in the UK lighting market between 2013-17

The overall lighting market in the UK was estimated to be worth £2.4 billion in 2017, having increased by 44% since 2013. The key driver for the lighting market is LED lighting which has gained significant share in the non-domestic sector and also started to make inroads into the domestic market. LED technology is likely to promote a period of innovation and expansion particularly in terms of more integrated products, control and lighting solutions. Forecasts are for growth but at a lower rate than in the period 2014-2017 as the uptake of LED’s has increased.

Retro-fitting of efficient lamp products has been crucial to growth rates within the market, and the lamps market has recorded the highest level of growth in recent years. It is expected to continue to outperform the market, due to the introduction of a wide range of replacement, higher value LED and low energy halogen products, although as the prices of these products fall considerably and penetration increases, this sector is expected to slow.

Luminaires dominate the UK lighting market, accounting for 57% share in 2017, although their overall share of the market is gradually declining in response to the high growth of other sectors. The luminaires market is more reliant on the levels of new build and refurbishment activity, particularly in the non-domestic sector. Strong luminaire market growth has been underpinned by investment in street lighting, rising levels of house completions as well as improvements in construction output for both the domestic and non-domestic sectors.

Controls also remain an important sector with high levels of growth and potential for this to continue. This reflects a sustained focus placed on efficiency and cost savings with organisations recognising the need to reduce unnecessary lighting provision. In the supply sector for controls, there has been a shift in focus towards lighting solutions and systems. This demonstrates not only the greater integration along the supply chain but also the significance of automation and control within the industry.

The UK lamps sector has been dominated by a small number of very large organisations who have all invested heavily in the LED sector in order to maintain market share through acquisition, vertical integration policies or organic and technical development. Opportunities are likely to remain within the UK lamps market for those organisations who can offer production scale and those who serve niche or specialist markets.

Home improvement multiples and department/high street stores are significant distribution channels for domestic luminaire sales with a wide range of refurbishment and decorating products under one roof. However, department stores and high street stores have lost market share recently and there has been significant share gain in the online retail sector.

Prospects for the UK lighting market remain positive, although more muted than recent history with annual growth rates of around 4-5% to 2022” said Fiona Watts at AMA Research. “There is potential for growth from the domestic sector as the take-up of LED systems offers increased scope for a reduction in energy-use, improved controls, and as technology prices fall and awareness of benefits increases.”

The adoption of more efficient lighting products which have boosted value underlying growth have increased life cycle expectations which may have negative implications for the market into the longer-term. Despite the increased demand for LED technologies, there has been an oversupply to the global market, especially from developing countries and China. As a result, the global prices of LEDs have fallen significantly and are likely to continue to decline to some extent as wider usage results in more competition.

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

Photo: 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.”

    Sunday, 13 May 2018

    Construction Output Fell by Over £1 Billion in Q1

    ONS figures published last week show that construction output decreased 2.7% in the first quarter of 2018. The fall was broad-based but was led by an 8.8% decline in public house building activity and a 5.9% reduction in public non-housing work. Private housing output recorded a fall of 1.6% over the quarter. Compared to a year earlier, total output was 4.9% lower during Q1.

    Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: “This release confirms what was reported in preliminary GDP data: construction had a poor opener to 2018. The 2.7% contraction in output was revised up from the initial estimate of a 3.3% decline, but this still represents the weakest outturn since August 2012 and a £1.04 billion loss in output in three months.

    “Output declined in each month of the quarter, undoubtedly capturing the pauses in work relating to Carillion’s liquidation in January and the snow disruption in February and March. Notably, private housing lost its position as the industry’s star performer, with output falling from a record high, but activity is expected to accelerate as we enter the Spring selling season.”