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 >>

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index grows in February (marginally)

February data pointed to a continuation of the subdued growth conditions reported across the UK construction sector at the beginning of 2018. Total business activity increased only marginally during the latest survey period, while new work decreased for the second month running.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that fragile business confidence and ongoing political uncertainty remained key factors holding back client demand. At the same time, strong input cost pressures were reported in February, with higher raw material prices, fuel bills and staff wages reported by survey respondents.

Key Findings
  • Marginal rise in total business activity, led by commercial work
  • New work declines for the second month running
  • Strong input cost inflation persists in February
At 51.4 in February, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI® ) edged up from January’s four-month low of 50.2. This signalled a marginal increase in construction output during February, with the index also weaker than seen on average in 2017 (52.3).

Civil engineering was the worst performing category of construction work, with activity falling at the sharpest pace for five months. A soft patch for house building continued in February, meaning that residential work remained on track for its weakest quarter since Q3 2016. The main bright spot was a solid upturn in commercial construction, which expanded at the fastest rate since May 2017.

New business volumes fell during February, although the rate of decline was only marginal and slightly slower than seen at the start of the year. Survey respondents cited fragile client confidence, a headwind from political uncertainty and a continued lack of tender opportunities to replace completed work on infrastructure projects.

Weak business activity growth and lower new order volumes both weighed on input buying in February. Relatively subdued demand for construction materials helped to alleviate some of the pressure on supply chains, with the latest downturn in vendor performance the least marked since September 2016.

Input cost inflation remained strong in February, driven by higher prices paid for a range of raw materials. Survey respondents noted that increased fuel costs and greater staff wages had pushed up operating expenses. However, the overall rate of input cost inflation was much softer than the five and-a-half year peak seen at the start of 2017.

Construction companies indicated that business confidence moderated since January and was at one of the lowest levels seen in the past five years. Some firms noted that resilient UK economic conditions had supported optimism. However, there were also reports that Brexit-related uncertainty continued to influence decision making and act as a drag on the demand outlook.


Tim Moore, Associate Director at IHS Markit and author of the IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI® “The construction sector endured another difficult month during February, with fragile business confidence, entrenched political uncertainty and softer housing market conditions all factors keeping growth in the slow lane. Residential work appears on track to experience its weakest quarter since Q3 2016, suggesting that house building is losing its status as the main engine of construction growth.

“Civil engineering activity was the worst performing category in February, with survey respondents again commenting on a shallow pool of work to replace projects reaching completion. While subdued house building and infrastructure work acted as a brake on the construction sector, this was partly offset by a sustained turnaround in commercial building.

“The increase in work on commercial projects during February was one of the strongest seen over the past two years. Some construction firms noted that greater industrial demand, alongside structural changes in consumer spending habits, had contributed to new project opportunities.

“Despite pockets of resilience in the UK construction sector, there was little sign of an imminent turnaround in overall growth momentum. Reflecting this, total volumes of new work dropped for the second month running in February and business optimism was among the weakest recorded by the survey since 2013.”

Duncan Brock, Director of Customer Relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “The sector was feeling as flat as a pancake in February with falls in new orders for the second month in a row and with just a marginal rise in overall activity, as ongoing political and economic uncertainty shouldered the blame.

“Cost pressures continued to creep up and bear down on purchasing activity as raw materials became even more expensive and in shorter supply, and vendor performance degraded again impacting on the completion of projects. A talent shortage also gave staff the power to demand higher wages, adding to the overall cost burdens for business.

“Housing bore the brunt of this disappointing performance, though there was a weak improvement this month. With the Government’s intention to increase housing stocks, there will have to be a boost to the sector’s fortune for these two trajectories to align.

“Overall, the only glimmer of hope through the masonry came from the commercial sector, with the strongest bounceback since May 2017 after languishing in the doldrums these past few months. And continued job creation was the biggest surprise as survey respondents may be preparing for stronger than expected workflows.

“But with the sector’s optimism taking a tumble below its five-year trend, and without the reality of a strong pipeline of work to support activity, it will take more than spring sunshine to thaw the sector’s prospects next month.”

Photo from Shutterstock

Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day! Success in Recruitment - Natalie Matthews

Just over a year ago we promoted former journalist, Natalie Matthews to our become our new Business Manager. We are delighted to say she has been a fantastic appointment and is thriving in the role. As today is International Women's Day, we look back to her thoughts when she was appointed.

Recruitment agencies need to recruit too, and we experience the same challenges, frustrations and disappointments as everyone else.

Like anyone recruiting, we need to find the best and most appropriate fit for our business, enabling us to thrive, whilst maintaining our in-house philosophy and integrity.

It’s vitally important that the person we recruit to lead our Consultants shares our values.

An excellent indicator that the recruiter has got it right is when an internal promotion takes place. It is not only a reward for the hard work of the employee, but the recruiter also benefits from the valuable experience that person has of your company, which means newcomers can be effectively integrated into the team.

Natalie was recently promoted to Business Manager and as part of our desire to give people an insight into the workings of a recruitment agency, we caught up with her to find out more.

“I had no idea what to expect!”

An excellent trait of a recruitment consultant is being able to spot potential. Helping candidates identify how their existing skills are either relevant or transferable to succeed in roles they might not have considered is a rare and valuable talent. We identified this in Natalie when we recruited her six years ago.

“I joined as a Trainee Consultant from a journalism background with no previous sales or recruitment training. I was a Senior Reporter for a local newspaper, where one day I could be covering a cheetah escaping from a zoo and the next accompanying police on early morning drug raids.

“When I joined Pinnacle I had no idea what to expect, but I was given first-class training and support, which I continue to receive, and this is invaluable as I am now able to pass this onto the team.”

One thing that often people don’t realise is how diverse, challenging and rewarding the role of a recruitment consultant can be.

“You have to develop trusting relationships with clients and candidates, making sure you understand candidates’ knowledge, personality and aspirations, as well as understanding the recruiting company’s needs, culture and future direction.

“You learn diplomacy, empathy and the importance of communication and honesty being the best policy. It is a real buzz knowing you’ve helped someone, but it is equally important not to shy away from providing honest feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

Integrity is vital in recruitment

So what does Natalie’s new role involve and how does she hope to take it forward?

“This is my first step into management and I am really excited about it, although I see the role as more of a mentor, being on hand to support and develop the team, enabling us to be even more successful.

“Our consultants are dedicated and take pride in their job. They care about the candidates and clients they work with and strive to provide the best possible level of service. I'm exceptionally proud to work with such a team and for an agency that has built up a fantastic reputation over the last 16 years based on integrity.

“We view placements on a long-term basis, and a large proportion of the people we place go on to become our clients. Our client list is a testament to our place in the market as the leading specialist agency for the placement of sales, sales management and marketing professionals within the building products sector.

“We are proud of our many recommendations and referrals and I will endeavour to reach out to companies and candidates that are yet to benefit from our specialist service.”

The challenges

The construction industry has, and will, continue to experience challenging times including recession, recovery and Brexit. The employees of companies are the people who can help make a difference, but good employees are hard to find as Natalie explains.

“Good candidates aren’t readily available. This means that these are frustrating times for those recruiting, but working with Pinnacle as an industry specialist means our extensive candidate network and tools at our disposal means we can help.”

It is important to remember that a reputable agency wants to develop long-term and successful relationships.

“We realise that finding the right person as quickly as possible who will add value to your company is vitally important.”

Everyone at Pinnacle would like to wish Natalie continued success. Please feel free to contact her on 01480 405225 or via if you have a current recruitment requirement, either as a client or as a candidate. She is no longer available to assist on early morning drugs raids, though!

International Women's Day and the Young Women's Trust (BMF)

To celebrate International Women's Day, we'd like to remind everyone of a fantastic initiative set-up by the BMF.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has signed up to the Young Women's Trust employer pledge and aims to double the number of women and girls entering the merchant industry by 2020.

This is great news and only goes to confirm the increasing amount of women we are placing in sales and marketing jobs in the building and construction industry in recent times.

It is a shame that presently only 11% of merchanting apprentices are female, but the BMF announcement - following figures released by CITB which show that 232,000 jobs will be created in construction industry over the next 5 years and the findings of the charity the Young Women's Trust which has found that over 1 million women aged between 16 and 30 are in poorly paid roles and looking for work - is perfect timing and very encouraging.

BMF managing director John Newcomb, said: "Merchanting is a fantastic career with great progression and I want to open up the sector to more women across the country. This is a huge opportunity for our members who need a full mix of skills and experience in their branches and I am certain that we will meet, if not exceed, our ambitious target." 

A recent survey by the Young Women's Trust found that occupational segregation by gender is significant and is going backwards. For example, women comprise 94% of childcare apprenticeships but just under 4% of all engineering apprenticeships. These sectors are generally lower paid with women on apprenticeships earning on average 21% less than men on comparable apprenticeships. 

The BMF is already targeting women through its youth recruitment campaign, a central point of which is the website which features several young women who are already making their mark in the industry. 

The BMF has now signed up to the following pledge: "The BMF recognises the value of gender diversity and will take action to increase the representation of young women in our apprenticeship programmes." 

If you would like a career in sales and marketing in the building industry, contact us today on 01480 405225 or

Images: BMF

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Financial Concerns Hit Construction’s Largest Sectors

The proportion of companies in the construction supply chain struggling with rising costs for raw materials, labour and energy has remained elevated in each quarter in 2017 according to the Construction Products Association's Construction Trade Survey for 2017 Q4.

The survey found that although activity continued to increase for main contractors, SME builders, product manufacturers and specialist contractors during the quarter, civil engineering firms reported the first fall in workloads in four years. Net balances for orders, enquiries and expected product sales for the year ahead weakened, and contractors reported lower orders in the commercial, infrastructure, industrial and public non-housing sectors. Combined, these sectors account for over 40% of total construction output.

Rises in fuel and energy costs were prevalent among heavy side product manufacturers, reflecting the lagged impact of Sterling's depreciation during 2016 on hedged commodity prices. This, in combination with existing price pressures for raw materials and labour, has intensified the cost inflation passing through the supply chain. Overall, costs were reported higher for 82% of civil engineering contractors, whilst raw materials increased for 82% of main contractors and 91% of light side product manufacturers.

Commenting on the survey, Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the CPA, said: "The Q4 survey marked the fourth consecutive quarter of falling profit margins among building contractors. This combined with Carillion's liquidation at the start of this year only emphasises the financial strains exerted by a protracted period of rising costs passing through the supply chain. Falls in new orders reported in the four sizeable sectors of commercial, infrastructure, industrial and public non-housing add another downside to the outlook for 2018 given the early signs of slowing activity at the end of last year."

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: "Smaller building firms in the construction sector fared well in the final three months of last year. The latest figures demonstrate an underlying resilience in the industry with many firms reporting increased workloads and an increase in enquiries. However, now is no time for complacency as growth among construction SMEs is slowing. Firms have reported record highs in terms of problems hiring skilled trades such as bricklayers, carpenters and plasterers. With Brexit just around the corner, this problem could well be exacerbated if our access to skilled EU workers is diminished. What's more, the acute skills gap has caused salaries to spike and material prices remain high. Together these factors are squeezing margins for smaller builders."

CECA Director of External Affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said: "These disappointing figures show that more must be done to unlock planned infrastructure investment and bring schemes to market. CECA calls on Government to do more, by committing to projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, and to continue to develop projects to add to this pipeline to secure the future of the UK economy. Our hopes are that the decline in workloads during 2017 Q4 is representative of a pause in activity, rather than a sign of broader decline."

Key survey findings include:

  • On balance, 22% of main building contractors reported that construction output rose in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with a year ago
  • One-third of specialist contractors reported a rise in output during Q4
  • 4% of civil engineers, on balance, reported a decrease in workloads during Q4
  • On balance, 20% of SME contractors reported increased workloads in Q4 compared to three months earlier
  • Main contractors reported that order books were lower in industrial, commercial and public non-housing
  • 10% of civil engineering firms reported a decrease in new orders in Q4, on balance
  • 15% of SMEs and half of specialist contractors reported an increase in enquiries in Q4, on balance
  • Overall costs increased for 82% of civil engineering contractors, whilst 82% of main contractors, 87% of heavy side manufacturers and 91% of light side manufacturers reported raw materials costs rose in Q4
  • 17% of main contractors and specialist contractors reported a fall in profit margins in Q4

Monday, 5 March 2018

Job in Focus: Regional Sales Manager in North for Interior Fit-out Products via Specification

Our new Job in Focus for March is an exciting Regional Sales Manager's position for interior fit-out Products in the North. Targeting the specification market, you will have 3 sales reports and will be responsible for guidance, budgets, negotiation and key account management. £50k plus superb 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: J10066
Product: Building Products
Location: North
Salary: £50k

Manufacturer of interior fit-out products targeting the specification market 

Basic salary of up to £50K with 20% bonus plus company car, mobile, laptop, pension and additional company benefits. 

EMPLOYER: Our client is a leading European manufacturer of interior fit-out products with an excellent reputation for cutting-edge technology and innovative new product development. 

JOB DESCRIPTION: Regional Sales Manager: The successful candidate will have 3 field sales reports. This is a senior level management position with the person responsible for ensuring that the team deliver on targets and providing guidance and direction. Covering the company's full range of high quality fit out products. Responsibilities including day-to-day leading and supporting the team, budget negotiation, sales forecasting and key account management working with supply chain customers. The main customer base for this division is in the specification sector targeting architects. 

LOCATION: Field based covering the North including West Midlands, East Midlands, North West and North East including Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland, Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Staffordshire 

CANDIDATE: We are seeking a highly motivated individual with experience managing a field sales team. This person should also have knowledge of the construction market and be used to negotiating at senior level with architects within the construction market. 

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