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