RCI Column – Builders’ Merchants’ Q2 sales: A tale of resilience and recovery


The BMBI results for Quarter 2 show the phenomenal resilience of the sector in action. April, May and June couldn’t have been more different. April, in almost full lockdown, fell -76.5% year-on-year, May recovered to -39.9% as restrictions started to ease, and June grew +2.2%, helped by two more trading days this year, more relaxed restrictions and a booming Landscaping category.


Total Builders Merchants value sales to builders, roofers and contractors in Q2 2020 (unadjusted for trading days) fell -38.6% compared with the same period in 2019.

Landscaping the strongest performer, was down -13.3% over the same period. The two largest product categories – Heavy Building Materials and Timber & Joinery Products – fell -38.4% and -39.8% respectively.


Total value sales dropped by -27.2% in Q2 2020 compared with the previous quarter. All categories declined except for Landscaping (+38.7%). Heavy Building Materials was down -26.7%.


The quarterly BMBI index for Total Builders Merchants was 76.4, with Heavy Building Materials at 75.1. Landscaping was ahead of all categories with an index of 138.8.

Lynn Street, Sales & Marketing Manager of Midland Lead and BMBI’s Expert for Lead, comments: “Challenging, worrying, unprecedented, that’s how many of us will sum up Q2 2020, as it takes its place in the history books. It was clear the road would be uncomfortable, forcing many businesses to innovate and work more closely together to survive, and we’re still navigating new territories. But we leave Q2 in a more positive frame of mind, knowing the construction sector has risen to the many challenges.

“Improved communications and sharing new information have become the new normal. Many organisations worked well together to ensure we came through. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) quickly pulled together advice and resources in a sector roadmap, giving much needed clarity. Recently, the CLC’s task force published a series of toolkits to provide guidance in planning a route through complex, shifting policies. Organisations like this have been a voice of authority and continue to lobby Government on behalf of construction.

“Many forward-thinking construction material manufacturers, building contractors and merchants have had to re-evaluate operations quickly to become more lean and agile and move into the next phase of recovery with a positive and sustainable outlook. For Midland Lead this means focussing on our three core values: Sustainability, Customer Service and Innovation.

“Brexit is still on our radar but plans to prepare for it are fogged by uncertainty. We wait to hear announcements on new legislation, keen to understand these policies and what will be in place by January 2021.

“Every business has been affected by the global pandemic, but one thing that we have seen throughout the construction sector is resilience. Let’s not talk ourselves into a recession. Let’s work together to make a better future.”

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