Buildingtalk.com blog – Slowdown in builders’ merchants’ sales in Q2

Slowdown in builders’ merchants’ sales in Q2

Following a strong start to the year, Total Builders’ Merchants’ value sales to builders and contractors were down -1.2% in Q2 2019 against the same period last year. However, the adjusted figure, which takes into account differences in trading days, was marginally positive at +0.4%.

Value sales of Heavy Building Materials, the largest category, declined by -1.6% year-on-year. Landscaping products was the best performing category, rising by +1.2%.

The negative quarterly figure was heavily influenced by poor trading towards the end of the period, with overall sales in June down -8.1% compared with the same month last year. Most product categories recorded a negative performance.

Quarter-on-quarter, however, the picture is more positive. Total Builders’ Merchants’ sales in Q2 2019 increased by +8.9% compared with Q1, and average sales a day (which takes into account the difference in trading days) were up +12.5% over the same period.

June’s BMBI index was 117.2, with Landscaping (146.6) the top performing category.

Simon Taylor, Director of Sales – Builders Merchants, Ibstock joins the BMBI panel this month as the new expert for bricks. He comments: “So far, in the first five months of 2019, an additional 25 million clay bricks have been produced by GB brick-makers compared with the same period last year. This 3% increase is matched by the additional volume despatched to customers.

“During the same period, the volume of bricks imported into the UK has increased by 16% or 18 million bricks. Just over 80% of bricks imported into the UK in this period were produced in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. However, the numbers of bricks that are being transported from countries many thousands of miles away, such as India, Pakistan and Turkey, has doubled this year against last.

“A few housebuilders are choosing to use concrete bricks to supplement the perceived shortage of clay products. Concrete bricks represent only a small percentage of the total brick market and independent reports suggest they are heavier to transport and handle, slower and more difficult to work with on site (bricklayers can lay around 17% more clay bricks a day than concrete) and there is a limited range of colours and textures to select from.

“Despite the current economic uncertainty, which affects the confidence to decide to make major capital investments, UK clay brick manufacturers are continuing to spend money increasing production, improving yields and maintaining quality to keep UK developers and builders’ merchants readily supplied with their first-choice external cladding material – UK produced clay bricks.”

BMBI Experts speak exclusively for their markets, explaining trends, issues and opportunities.

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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.

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