Monday, 18 June 2018

Construction output increase hides the true picture

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

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

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

Photo from Shutterstock

Monday, 11 June 2018

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

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

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

Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

UK construction faces 'shaky outlook'

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

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

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

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

    Monday, 4 June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Image: Shutterstock

    Saturday, 2 June 2018

    CPA Responds to Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety

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

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

    • Working Group 3: Regulations and Guidance

    and also contribute to:

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

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

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

    Recommendations of the report include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo: Shutterstock

    Monday, 28 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, 16 May 2018

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

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

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

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

    Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tuesday, 15 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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.”

    Tuesday, 1 May 2018

    UK market for bricks, blocks and precast concrete products at highest level since 2007

    The market for bricks, blocks and precast concrete products was worth over £2.1bn in 2017 and has grown by around 10% in value terms since 2015, and by almost 50% since 2012. This is the highest value achieved since just prior to the recession in 2007, and market value is forecast to exceed this in 2018, according to a new report from AMA.

    The products covered in this market are bricks, blocks, precast concrete and natural and cast stone products, with precast concrete products representing the single largest product sector.

    “Growth in this market has been underpinned by recovery and rapid recent growth in the housebuilding sector in particular, as well as higher levels of output from key non-residential sectors including infrastructure, commercial offices, education and entertainment & leisure. Non-residential output remains somewhat volatile, particularly since the EU vote, which introduced a level of uncertainty affecting both business confidence and levels of investment” commented Keith Taylor, Director at AMA Research.

    There are negative factors currently impacting growth in the market. Lower levels of consumer confidence and downward pressure on household incomes have impacted private RMI activity and are likely to constrain spending going forward with little signs of the squeeze on household disposable incomes being relieved. Additionally, both the bricks and blocks sectors have experienced recent supply issues as suppliers have struggled to cope with the significant rise in demand.

    Demand for bricks has accelerated since the housebuilding sector returned to growth in 2014 and entered a period of sustained recovery after several years of volatility. In March and May 2017 brick sales in the UK rose to their highest levels for a decade and builders’ merchants and other distributors were reported to be replenishing stock levels after an industry-wide destocking in early 2016.

    The precast concrete blocks market is also performing well, and in 2017 sales reached their highest levels in a decade in value terms following 14% growth over the period 2015-2017.

    One of the most important drivers of this growth has been the significant and sustained rise in housebuilding activity, with the residential sector a heavy user of a wide range of precast concrete products, including blocks. Demand is also underpinned by positive trends in nonresidential construction where the main drivers for growth are the infrastructure, education and commercial office sectors.

    Precast concrete structural products comprise of precast flooring, precast panels, panelised building systems and miscellaneous precast products such as structural frames and columns. Demand for precast concrete structural products has continued to rise, with the market worth 25% more in 2017 than in 2013. Output is strongly linked to the performance of sectors such as infrastructure, education, commercial offices, industrial, and entertainment & leisure – all strong users of precast concrete structural products.

    Going forward, the individual product categories covered in the report are all expected to continue growing. However, the annual rates of growth are likely to be lower than those experienced 2013-16, at around 2-3%, but expected to rise more strongly 2021-22, once the Brexit-related uncertainties have been resolved and the market begins to regain some stability. Future demand will be underpinned by sustained growth in residential output, although the rate of growth, in terms of both newbuild and RMI, is expected to be slower than that experienced 2013-16.

    The ‘Bricks, Blocks and Precast Concrete Products Market Report – UK 2018-2022’ 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.

    Tuesday, 24 April 2018

    Job in Focus: National Sales role for Power Tools to Amazon - £60k OTE

    Our latest Job in Focus is a National Account Manager role where you would be responsible for maximising sales and introducing new products via Amazon for a wide range of power tools and accessories. The package has a £60k OTE with additional benefits.

    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 Account Manager
    Job Ref: J10310
    Product: Tools
    Location: South West
    Salary: £50k + 10k OTE

    Manufacturer of tools managing one of our client key accounts in the form of Amazon. 

    Package: Basic salary up to £50k plus £10k OTE as well as car allowance, mobile phone, laptop and additional company benefits. 

    Company: A fantastic chance to join a growing manufacturer in the power tool and accessory sector offering a great opportunity to help shape the business moving forward after promising growth figures over the past number of years. 

    Role: The position is for a National Account Manager with a focus on selling a range of power tool lines to Amazon as an account. Tasked with bringing on maximising sales and introducing new product ranges where necessary. A number of product ranges from low cost to high end premium power tools are offered across the product range allowing the company to compete at all levels in the market. 

    Area: The position would be communicating at all levels of the customer base Nationally however you will be required to attend regular meetings and sales conferences at the companies head office in Somerset. Candidates should ideally be located within two hours commute - Ideally based in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Wales, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, West Midlands, Hampshire, West Sussex, Surrey. 

    Candidates: We are looking for a highly motivated and professional individual with experience dealing with Amazon at a Key Account level. A proven track record of managing major accounts on a national basis is key to the position with a strong sales ability and high level of commercial acumen highly valued. Product knowledge of tools and accessories would be beneficial but not required however candidates must have an exposure to managing accounts in the retail, DIY or national merchant sectors. 

    For further information on this exciting opportunity contact Ben Mckinnell on 01480 405225 or apply online.

    Tuesday, 17 April 2018

    BMJ Awards Finalists Announced!

    The Builders Merchants sector is one of the areas of the building industry which has been doing very well in the last year or so. 

    We are delighted to help promote the inaugural BMJ Industry Awards next month, especially with the final, shortlist for the ceremony just being announced. The actual winners will be revealed at the Awards Lunch on Friday, May 18th at the Brewery in Chiswell Street, London.

    The companies and brands on the final list are:

    Best Bathroom Brand
    Methven, Lakes Bathrooms, Roca, Bristan

    Best Distributor
    Ideal Bathrooms, Encon, Everbuild, Claygate

    Best Heating Brand
    Amber Underfloor Heating , Worcester Bosch, Baxi,  Stelrad Radiators

    Best Heavy side Brand
    ACO Technologies, Ibstock,  Imperial Bricks ,   Isover

    Best Kitchen Brand
    Rixonway , Moores, Blanco, BA Clic

    Best Landscaping Brand
    Brett Paving , Azpects Ltd,   Stonemarket , Digby Stone

    Best Plumbing Brand
    Baxi , John Guest,  Wavin

    Best Roofing Brand
    IKO, Keylite Roof Windows,, Norbord   Marley Eternit

    Best Timber Brand
    Norbord, Covers Timber, Arbor Forest Products,   SCA Merchant Services

    Best Customer Service
    Amy Sellers – SCA Timber, Cassey Behm – Methven,
    Martin Walker – Chandler Material Supplies,  Nora Conlan – Jaga Heating Products

    Best Sales Rep
    Lyndsey Makin – Methven, John Gaunt – Knauf Insulation,
    Becky Brian – Howarth Timber & Builder Supplies, Roy Selby – Azpects Ltd

    Industry Personality of the year
    Stuart Mason-Elliott – Elliotts, Andy Williamson- IKO,  Paul Bence – Bence Builders Merchants,  Tim Pollard – Pollard2Pollard

    National Rising Star of the year
    Alex Bagnall – Keyline Peterborough, Dionne Allard – City Plumbing Supplies, Katy Monk – City
    Plumbing Supplies

    Independent Rising Star of the year
    Jessica Kelsey – Alsford Timber, Karli Mallard – Ridgeons , James Tristram – EH Smith,  Lee Davies – LBS Builders Merchants

    Online Merchant of the year
    My Paint Brush, Parker Building Supplies,  Chandler Material Supplies

    New Merchant of the year
    Bence Roofing, London Lintels, MGN Builbers Merchants

    Multiple Merchant of the year (10-100 branches)
    Ridgeons, RGB, Elliotts Builders Merchants,  EH Smith, Bradfords Building Supplies

    Independent Merchant of the year (1-10 branches)
    George Bence Group, GPH Builders Merchants, Coomers Timber Building Supplies Chandler
    Material Supplies

    Best Merchant Showroom
    Elliotts Living Spaces – Romsey,
    EH Smith Builders Merchants – New Brick Showroom, Shirley
    Ridgeons – Nuffield Road Cambridge,
    George Bence Group t/a Obsidian Kitchens & Bathrooms,
    Nicholls Bicester Kitchen and Bathroom Solutions

    Best Merchant Marketing Campaign of the year
    Elliotts – 175 campaign,
    EH Smith Builders Merchants – New branch launch, EH Smith Castle Bromwich,
    Wolseley – Zombie Boilers,
    George Bence Group – Bence Rewards

    To book your place at the event, go to:

    Thursday, 12 April 2018

    Construction Products Manufacturing freezes in Q1 2018

    The CPA’s State of Trade Survey for 2018 Q1 shows that the £56 billion UK construction products manufacturing industry suffered a weak start to 2018, in a quarter that combined the liquidation of Carillion and several days of disrupted activity due to snow and freezing temperatures.

    Heavy side manufacturers recorded the lowest balance in five years with 15% of firms reporting a decline in sales in Q1, following a previous quarter of falling sales in 2017 Q4. For light side manufacturers, no firms on balance reported either an increase or a decrease, which was the weakest performance since 2013 Q2. Construction product sales act as an early indicator of wider construction activity and these results signal a noticeable dip in total industry output for Q1.

    Manufacturers anticipate a return to growth in the coming quarters, but rising costs continue to act as a headwind. 90% of heavy side manufacturers and 84% of those on the light side reported a rise in raw materials costs in Q1, whilst the same proportions reported an increase in wages and salaries. In addition, fuel costs rose for 90% of heavy side manufacturers.

    Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist said: “It was always unlikely that heavy side manufacturers would avoid the snow disruption, with aggregates quarries unable to operate and pauses in activities such as groundworks and bricklaying affecting demand for products and materials from construction sites. In addition, manufacturing capacity in this energy-intensive sector of the industry is likely to have been temporarily reduced by the National Grid’s gas deficit warning at the beginning of March.

    “It appears from the forward-looking indicators that Q1 was just a weather-related blip, as 42% of heavy side manufacturers anticipate sales rising in Q2 and 37% see sales rising over the next 12 months. However, no light side manufacturers expect sales to increase in the next quarter and only 16% anticipate a rise over the course of the year, likely to reflect the lagged impact of any pauses in activity in Q1 on demand for these non-structural and finishing products that tend to be used nearer the end of the building process.”

    Key survey findings include:
    • A balance of 15% of heavy side firms reported that construction product sales fell in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. No light side firms, on balance, reported a rise in sales in Q1
    • On an annual basis, sales decreased for 5% of heavy side firms but rose for 10% of firms on the light side, on balance
    • On balance, 37% of heavy side manufacturers anticipated a rise in sales in the next year, increasing from a zero balance in the previous quarter
    • On the light side, 16% of firms expected an increase in product sales in the next year, compared to a balance of 10% in 2017 Q4
    • Annual cost increases were reported by 90% of manufacturers on the heavy side and 79% on the light side
    • Raw materials costs rose according to 90% of heavy side manufacturers and 84% of those on the light side
    • 68% of heavy side manufacturers and 67% of light side manufacturers anticipate a rise in costs over the next 12 months.
    Image: Shutterstock

    Tuesday, 10 April 2018

    Snow stops play for the Construction sector

    For the Australian cricket team, ball-tampering stopped play and halted their success, but in the construction sector snow stopped play during March! The weather in March caused the fastest drop in activity since 2016 according to the latest PMI. Hopefully, as construction workers come back to play with the improving weather output will hit the weather back over the boundary for six!

    Supply chains were “woefully unprepared” for the unusually bad weather, which was the key factor behind the drop in construction output. Snow-related disruptions had a particularly bad impact on civil engineering projects, the report said.

    The CIPS/IHS Markit UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 47.0 in March, down from 51.4 in February. It is the first time in six months that the index has fallen below the no-change score of 50. The index is compiled through a monthly survey of buyers – a score above 50 represents growth, while a score below indicates contraction.

    Duncan Brock, group director of CIPS, said: “Snow stopped play in March, as the unseasonal weather restricted overall activity, lengthened delivery times and triggered the fastest drop in new orders since July 2016.

    “It’s a few years since the UK experienced such bad weather in March, and it’s obvious that supply chains were woefully unprepared to deal with the disruptions.”

    Brock added that while the March figures could be seen as a “temporary blip”, without a strong pipeline of work or strong risk strategies, the sector’s health remains in question.

    While civil engineering and commercial activity were worst hit, housing became the best performer of the month. But growth here was still softer than most of 2017, likely caused by more systemic problems than the weather. Brock said: “Respondents also cited continuing Brexit-related uncertainty and disappointment over performance of the UK economy.”

    There was some good news in the sector. Price inflation was the lowest since June 2016 as the impact of the weak pound has largely dissipated, and job creation was the strongest so far this year indicating optimism for the months ahead.

    Manufacturing PMI figures for March were also released this week and indicated a steady rate of growth in the sector. The CIPS/IHS Markit Manufacturing PMI increased slightly to 55.1 in March, up from 55.0 in February. Brock said this was “a steady if unremarkable performance”.

    Sunday, 8 April 2018

    Are you going to the NMBS Exhibition?

    This Wednesday (11th April) sees one of the most important and popular events of the merchants' sectors calendar - The NMBS 2018 Exhibition. It will again be held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

    Over 280 supplier and manufacturers are exhibiting at this years show, making it the biggest buying and selling event for Independent Builders, Hardware, Timber, Roofing, Plumbing and Heating Merchants.

    This year there are many Exhibition Rebates on offer and to qualify you must ensure that you follow the simple steps correctly. The Promotional Voucher Book and Spot Buy Offers will again have many exciting offers and giveaways available at selected stands along with your free lunch and drink vouchers. To help with the planning of your visit, do take some time to look through the Show Guide at the Exhibitor list and Stand Plan as this will help you get the most out of your day.

    If you are an independent merchant, make sure you attend and don't miss out. More information >>

    If you are looking for a job in the builders' merchants sector, find out more here.

    Friday, 6 April 2018

    The number 16...

    Each year on the anniversary of our establishment we like to reflect on something different to mark the occasion. This year - our 16th anniversary - we thought we’d look at the significance of the number 16.

    We were amazed to discover that in Tarot the number 16 is the Tower card. So what, we hear you say!?!

    Well…the Tower card symbolises great change. This could include moving on to something or someplace completely new. It also might be moving to a completely new location or another big change in life.

    That is pretty spooky for a company providing recruitment services to individuals looking for new challenges and to improve their lives through making positive changes. 

    But if you are looking for a change, make sure you act NOW…as in Tarot, reversed it indicates being stuck or being reluctant to make a change!

    Perhaps there is something in this Tarot lark?!

    16 years of helping people...
    When you strip down all the misconceptions about the recruitment industry, ultimately recruitment - when done properly and with integrity - should be considered a vital human support service. 

    The focus should be to help individuals achieve their dreams, reach their potential, and ensure they are able to support their families and enjoy life. And from the other side, seeing businesses grow, partially because of the calibre of people we have managed to match to their business is equally as rewarding. If that doesn’t make recruitment agency worthwhile industry, we don’t know what does. 

    All the team here get a buzz when we make someone’s day by placing them in a role and at the same time solve a problem for a company. If that feeling ever stops, then we have failed our industry. 

    We’d like to thank everyone who has worked for us and with us in the last 16 years.

    So are you ready to gamble and shuffle your pack? 
    If you would like to discuss a current recruitment requirement, please contact us on 01480 405225 or email

    Take a look at our current vacancies >>

    Sunday, 1 April 2018

    Job in Focus: National Specification Sales Job for Entrance Systems - £65k

    Our new Job in Focus for April is superb specification sales job selling to architects and contractors on a national basis for Auto Doors and Entrance Systems. It is a cradle to grave role targeting Architects, Contractors & Local Authorities for residential, commercial and public sector projects. The package is worth £65k plus. 

    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 Ref: J10172
    Product: Entrance Systems
    Location: National
    Salary: £65k


    PACKAGE: Up to £65k + bonus + Company Car + Pension + Laptop + Iphone + Healthcare + 25 days Holiday + Bank Holiday. 

    EMPLOYER: Our client is a market leading manufacturer of Automatic doors and security systems selling to Architects and contractors. 

    JOB DESCRIPTION: National Sales Manager: The focus of the role is to manage a team of 5 people who will be promoting our clients top of the range of automatic doors to Architects, Main Contractors, Sub Contractors, Local Authorities and Housing Associations to generate enquiries and specifications. This will be managing projects from cradle to grave, working on commercial, residential, Education, social housing, healthcare projects. A fantastic opportunity to join a true market leader in the sector. You will also be responsible for dealing with the larger accounts and key decision makers of major projects. 

    LOCATION: Covering National ideally being based commutable to London 

    CANDIDATE: Our client is seeking an enthusiastic and motivated field sales individual who has experience in managing a team. A strong background in the specification environment within the construction industry and have a proven track record of sales ability and performance with experience in specifying and selling a technically biased product. 

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

    Saturday, 24 March 2018

    UK contract floorcoverings market worth in excess of £1bn

    After achieving strong growth of 4% in 2015, growth rates in the contract floorcoverings market were slightly disappointing in 2016 and 2017. A number of factors had a negative impact on the market, including increasing inflation towards the end of the period and adverse currency movements as an indirect result of the Brexit vote, affecting imports. However, despite reduced growth rates, the value of the contract flooring market exceeded £1bn in 2017The contract sector accounts for around half of the total floorcoverings market, and its share continues to increase.

    There has been only modest change to the product mix in this sector recent years. Carpet has decreased in share marginally, mainly reflecting a growth in vinyl flooring, which is now the second largest product group. The growth of vinyl has been underpinned by the increased specification of safety flooring and the more recent trend for luxury vinyl tiles to be installed in the retail and office sectors. The medium-term outlook is for similarly modest changes to the product mix, with carpet expected to continue to lose share marginally to vinyl products and floor tiles in the period to 2022.

    UK manufacturers remain under pressure from imports, particularly from the larger overseas floorcoverings groups, who increasingly cover several types of floorcoverings products. However, going forward UK manufacturers should gain some competitive advantage from the increased cost of imported products, although that factor will increase the cost of any raw materials they import themselves.

    Keith Taylor, Director of AMA Research commented: “The contract floorcoverings market has changed significantly over the last decade. Following developments in the domestic sector, a wider range of flooring products are now included in specifications, demonstrated by a move away from carpet towards smooth flooring materials in recent years. One change has been the move to a more integrated use of different flooring materials within a single installation, possibly combining carpeting with a vinyl product, although the use of different types of vinyl has also increased, especially LVT.”

    Going forward, the outlook for the overall floorcoverings market is generally optimistic, although forecasts have been lowered recently, mainly resulting from the uncertainty affecting the Brexit negotiations, and over the next five years, growth rates of 2-3% are forecast in the market. Positive factors impacting the market include opportunities for new build and RMI work in the health and education sectors.

    The construction of HS2 should lead to greater demand for floorcoverings on concourses, restaurants and perhaps other establishments near the various stations. However, growth in the contract sector is expected to be adversely affected by the lack of growth in the overall construction sector in 2018 and slow growth in the following years, as a result of a decline in the private commercial construction sector.

    The report is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

    Photo from Shutterstock

    Monday, 19 March 2018

    Positive Sales Figures for the Builders Merchant market

    The latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) Quarter 4 report has been published and shows another set of positive sales figures for the final Quarter of 2017.  

    It reflects the continued strength of the sector’s primary markets – private housebuilding and domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI).

    Check out the full report here >>

    Total Q4 2017 sales were up +6.3% on Q4 2016, delivering stronger growth for the quarter than the running average, which in turn helped to push the annual growth numbers. Overall, merchant sales in 2017 finished 4.8% ahead of 2016 by value.

    The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales throughout the country, making it the most reliable source of data for the sector.

    Looking at Q4 in detail, total growth was supported by the two biggest value categories, Timber & Joinery (+7.3%) and Heavy Building Materials (+6.4%). A number of other product categories also assisted the strong finish, notably Plumbing, Heating & Electrical, and Tools (both up by +7.7%), Ironmongery (+7.3%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+6.6%).

    Perhaps not surprisingly, growth in annual sales was also driven by the largest product groups, with Timber & Joinery at +5.4% and Heavy Building Materials at 5.1%.

    December slowed in comparison to both Q4 and the annual totals, but an extra trading day in 2016 hides the true performance. Growth per trading day grew faster than the annual average at +5.7%. Timber & Joinery at +8.6% was a major contributor, but internally focused categories – Plumbing Heating and Electrical +10.1%, and Kitchens & Bathrooms +8.9% – performed strongly year-on-year.

    If you would like a sales or marketing job in the builders merchants market, find out more here >>