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.
Like everybody, we’ve adapted to a ‘new normal’ over the past few months. Our commercial team have swapped face-to-face meetings for virtual ones so we can stay close to our customers, and even speak more frequently.
Face to face training has also become virtual. By the time you read this, for example, we’ll have launched our new series of 15-minute online training modules for merchants. Each module focuses on a specific insulation topic or application to help merchants better serve their customers and make the most of link-selling opportunities as the industry recovers.
Of course, the big question is just how rapid recovery will be. This report shows that merchant sales in May were 40% down on last year, though they rose sharply compared to April. At Knauf Insulation, we have seen increasing demand since the beginning of May, helped partly by the recent stamp duty relaxation.
There are other reasons for optimism on the outlook for insulation. The government’s widely publicised Green Homes Grants of up to £10,000 a home for home energy efficiency improvements will provide an obvious short-term boost. We await further details on how the scheme will work to see how it will affect merchants.
The real boost comes if the Green Homes Grant is just the start of a national investment in the energy efficiency of UK homes. The current consensus on the need for major public investment to create jobs, improve housing stock and meet emissions goals gives us a historic opportunity (and the reality is, there is no path to achieve net-zero without widespread retrofits using high quality insulation).
We’re playing our part to ensure that the opportunity isn’t missed. The chancellor’s announcements followed a successful campaign run by the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, supported by the Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA) and partners including Knauf Insulation. We’ll continue to talk to government to make sure energy efficiency remains at the top of the agenda for a green recovery.
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.