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.
Changing trends in specification played a big role in the strong, sustained demand for mineral wool insulation last year.
Even without a decisive boost to the market from ECO3, the financial case for more thermally-efficient buildings remains robust and well-understood. But there are other insulation performance factors we expect to play an increasing role in specification in 2019.
We’ve already seen fire safety feature more strongly in the decision-making process for specifiers and homeowners. Sales of non-combustible building materials have increased as a result. We now know that this trend will continue following December’s update to the building regulations, which mandated the use of materials with Euroclass Reaction to Fire ratings of A1 or A2 on the façades of certain building types over 18m.
We expect the acoustic performance of insulation to become a more significant consideration in 2019 too, driven by a greater understanding of the impact of noisy buildings on health and productivity. Insulation choice makes a big difference in building acoustic performance, and it’s often possible to improve the environment for occupiers at negligible cost. Manufacturers need to work with merchants, and their customers, to help them make the most of the new business opportunities that arise as a result.
Indoor air quality is another factor we expect to come to the fore. It will drive insulation sales in general, as warm and dry homes are healthier environments, but it will also determine which insulation products are chosen. Merchants should expect more questions on the chemical composition of the products they supply. The Eurofins certification scheme for indoor air comfort is a valuable aid here (for example, at Knauf Insulation our products with ECOSE Technology have been awarded Gold status).
Any look ahead to 2019 must address Brexit. Merchants will naturally have concerns about the impact it may have on the supply of building products. Responsible manufacturers will have detailed contingency plans in place to mitigate the risk of disruption whatever the eventual outcome of current negotiations.
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.