Generally weaker November but robust Timber & Joinery sales
Total Builders Merchants value sales to builders and contractors in November 2018 were up 0.8% compared with November 2017. Four categories did better, including Timber & Joinery Products (+3.9%), the second-largest category. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+3.3%) had its highest monthly sales since BMBI started in July 2014.
Overall November sales were 7.0% lower than October. The last three years have seen sales drop between October and November but the reduction was higher this year. However October 2018 had the highest value sales since BMBI started and this will have contributed to the larger month-on-month fall. Workwear & Safetywear (+4.9%) was one of only three categories that sold more, along with Kitchens & Bathrooms (+4.6%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+3.9%). Seasonal category Landscaping (-15.7%) was weakest.
The eleven months January to November 2018 were 4.0% ahead of the same period in 2017. Plumbing Heating & Electrical was strongest (+7.7%) with Timber & Joinery Products (+7.2%) close behind.
November’s BMBI index was 122.5 with one additional trading day. Plumbing Heating & Electrical was top (146.5). The average sales a day index for November was 115.6.
Tony France, Sales Director Ibstock and BMBI’s Expert for Bricks, comments: “With the uncertainty of Brexit continuing, there has been little perceptible impact on the demand for clay facing bricks. After a weather-affected start to 2018, with GB produced brick despatch volumes down 6% in Q1 2018 compared with 2017, Q2 and Q3 saw good recovery. Both quarters experienced 2% despatch volume growth against the same periods in 2017.
“While overall GB brick despatches, therefore, are broadly flat year-on-year, there has been a significant increase in brick production. In the first nine months of 2018, GB brick manufacturers produced 9% more bricks than in the same period of 2017, enough to build around 18,000 houses. That’s the highest level of output since before the credit crunch, 10 years ago.
“Ibstock contributed with its new Eclipse factory now almost at full capacity and steadily increasing production towards its target of two million soft-mud bricks a week. In addition, a factory maintenance programme at some of our 20 factories will increase yields, improve quality and provide greater volumes for the growing market.
“With the market anticipating further brick demand growth in 2019, the industry is finalising its production plans. A key point to note is that Ibstock Brick manufactures all its products in the UK and does not rely on imported bricks. We do not expect any major impact from Brexit but are fully prepared for any potential issues we can foresee. While Brexit is creating uncertainty, we’re determined that the brick supply chain will be doing the opposite!”
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