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
Confidence in the sector is sky-high, with a healthy recovery forecast for construction and manufacturing. In fact, just after the quarter ended the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) hit levels not seen since 1994. Loosening lockdowns, pent-up projects and ongoing government support for the housing market have turbocharged demand in Q1, with little sign of it abating as the year progresses.
In the face of this voracious demand, supply has become a challenge. Across the board, from timber to plaster, steel to insulation, suppliers have faced a perfect storm of disruption. Lockdowns, Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage have compounded with other factors to restrict raw material flows and inflate costs, even for products manufactured in the UK.
That inevitably means price increases for common construction materials and in some cases, it may also mean limited availability. At Knauf Insulation we are working hard to bring new manufacturing capacity online to increase the supply of high-performance, non-combustible Mineral Wool insulation for our customers in the UK.
The non-combustible part is key. In the face of high demand, it’s vital that the construction industry doesn’t cut corners. We’ve all seen the headlines from the Grenfell inquiry, and the ongoing turmoil caused by cladding remedial work.
With building regulations changing, the new Construction Products Regulator coming and mortgage lenders and insurers taking a keener interest in material choice, it’s clear that the issue of fire safety isn’t going away.
The specification teams at larger contractors are already taking action to design out fire risk by using non-combustible insulation. But what about smaller builders? Is an independent installer working on an extension aware of all the risks involved with using certain products, and the potential for future liability issues?
This is where merchants can make a big difference. By asking questions when insulation is purchased, and encouraging the use of naturally non-combustible materials, they can help their customers to deliver better, safer buildings.
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.