Neil Hargreaves is Managing Director for Knauf Insulation Northern Europe (KINE), which includes the markets across the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and English-speaking countries in Africa.
Neil originally joined KINE in 2006 as Head of Commercial Finance before leaving to become Finance Director (EMEA) for a multi-national manufacturing and contracting business. In 2011, he re-joined KINE as Finance Director and has since played a key role in a number of commercial, financial and strategic projects. He was appointed Managing Director in February 2019.
Prior to joining KINE, Neil trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and gained experience in audit, business consulting and transaction services working with clients across manufacturing, construction and leisure industries.
Neil sits on the board for the Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA).
Knauf Insulation is the UK’s leading manufacturer of glass and rock mineral wool insulation products.
As part of the family owned Knauf Group, Knauf Insulation represents one of the most respected and progressive names in insulation. It offers an unrivalled range of insulation solutions for any application or project to meet the increasing demand for energy efficiency, fire resistance, thermal and acoustic performance in new and existing homes, non-residential buildings and industrial applications.
In the UK, the company operates at three manufacturing plants; Cwmbran, Queensferry and St. Helens.
Neil Hargreaves, Managing Director Knauf Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation.
As widely expected, quarter four saw a slowdown in construction activity as the market reacted to political uncertainty and November’s floods. The Construction Products Association (CPA) predicts an equally tepid 2020, with total output falling by 0.3% over the year – borne out by stock exchange announcements so far.
Nevertheless, I see causes for optimism for merchants and manufacturers. A No Deal Brexit no longer looms in the first part of 2020, and despite the noise of negotiating positions, Boris Johnson’s large majority gives hope for a deal to be struck or an extension to the transitional period.
That already stands us in much better stead than in 2019, when valuable time and resources were spent planning for multiple Brexit outcomes. In this context, businesses and homeowners will feel more confident to invest in their premises and homes. And the Government will too. The Conservatives pledged to build a million homes by 2025 – will that ambition be realised and, if so, what will it do to the market?
Talking of housebuilding, by the time you read this, the consultation on the Future Homes Standard and changes to Part L of the Building Regulations will have closed.
The proposed changes are broadly positive but, as ever, the devil is in the detail. In responding, we and many others have recommended the more ambitious emissions reduction target, combined with more resilient, safer buildings and appropriate monitoring of real-world building performance. We’ll report back on what the final changes mean for merchants when they’re announced.
One thing we can say with confidence is that the role of insulation will continue to evolve. It’s no longer enough to just think about U-values. At Knauf Insulation, we spent most of quarter four on the road, meeting merchants and their customers on our ‘bacon butty tour’ to celebrate the 10th anniversary of ECOSE® Technology, our unique bio-based binder.
It was encouraging to hear from installers how they’re increasingly being asked to consider fire safety, noise reduction and indoor air quality in their projects. That can only be a good thing, creating more resilient buildings that save energy, cost less to run and provide safe, comfortable environments for people to work and live in.
Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.