Expert for Bricks

Tony France

Sales Director


Tony France

Tony joined Steetley Brick & Tile in April 1985 as a Technical Sales Representative in North West England having previously spent 7 years in sales and design for a shopfitting company. Steetley was acquired by Redland Bricks in 1992 before its acquisition by Ibstock in 1996.

During this time, Tony has held the positions of Area Sales Manager, National Accounts Manager, National Sales Manager and Director of Sales – Builders Merchants.

He is currently Sales Director of Ibstock Brick and has board level responsibility for sales of c£250m, with a combined sales and customer service team of 120 people.

In 2016, Tony became a Supplier Advisor to the BMF Board and also a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants.


Ibstock is the UK’s leading brickmaker, offering a wide range of clay facing bricks and other clay based construction products manufactured at 19 factories across the country.

Ibstock’s roots can be traced back to the 1820s to the village of Ibstock in Leicestershire where the business is still based. Ibstock has over 600 different bricks and pavers in its product range which also includes external wall insulation and rain screen cladding systems. This range and variety makes Ibstock bricks the first choice for architects, merchants and builders alike.

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Ibstock comment: Q4 2018

Tony France, Sales Director Ibstock is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks.

Brick production and despatches both grew to the highest levels in a decade as demand continued to increase during 2018.

Full year figures, provided by the Brick Development Association, reveal that British brick manufacturers produced over 2 billion bricks for the first time since the recession. Beginning in 2008, it led to the mothballing or permanent closure of many brick factories over a 5-year period.

Similarly, 2.05 billion bricks were sold in 2018, which is slightly higher than in 2017 and was the biggest despatch volume since 2007 before the recession and credit crunch.

GB brick stocks are at relatively low levels, and it is increasingly essential for our industry to improve schedule accuracy so that manufacturers can provide a more reliable service with greater certainty of availability and supply. Working more closely with customers, Ibstock for example, has seen good improvement in 2018 and we will continue to prioritise those customers that provide the most accurate order and call-off information.

With demand exceeding supply, adding new capacity has been a priority. During 2019, Ibstock will continue to work to increase production. Our new Eclipse factory is now at almost full capacity and steadily increasing production up to its target of 2 million soft-mud bricks a week by the end of this year. In addition, we have planned a factory maintenance programme at some of our further 20 factories, which will increase yields, improve quality and provide greater volumes for the growing market.

Together with the capacity enhancement work of other GB manufacturers, we should see total production increase by somewhere around 5%. This will provide enough volume to match anticipated GB demand in 2019, without the need for increased volumes of imported bricks or alternative products.

This year, 2019 appears to have got off to a good start. Anecdotal comments from builders’ merchants indicate strong sales in January, despite some developers reporting slower than expected house sales, and blaming uncertainty for the slowdown.

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.