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.
Demand for mineral wool insulation has been strong in the second quarter of 2019. Although the sector has remained in allocation, this is beginning to ease, and we are starting to see stock levels recover to a more normalised position. At Knauf Insulation, we hope to be able to relax our allocation further in the second half of the year, and ultimately, remove it altogether.
Going forward, the picture for insulation demand is mixed. Renewed environmental commitments, like the 2050 zero-carbon target and the government’s Future Homes Standard, mean the long-term direction of travel for the sector is positive. But it looks like there will be some turbulence in the short to mid-term. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the current political situation has introduced some nervousness and uncertainty in the market.
Our supposedly less moderate new Prime Minister, and the perceived increase in the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, have impacted general construction activity. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has just estimated a £30bn economic impact from a hard exit from Europe. Similarly, the Construction Products Association (CPA) has forecasted a potential 12% reduction in new build housing next year in a no-deal scenario. It’s not surprising that such forecasts are having a detrimental effect on confidence in the construction industry, with the brakes being put on some major projects.
Many industry commentators warned of the potential for uncertainty from a no-deal situation. Well, the signs show this potential uncertainty is becoming a reality. The numbers are indicating a slowdown in the sector, although it’s difficult to know to what extent allocation is masking true levels of current demand.
What’s more, this uncertainty is set to deepen and continue for some time to come. No doubt, by the time of the next BMBI quarterly report, businesses will still be unsure about how they will be trading with our European partners.
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.