RCI Article – Solid October for Builders Merchants

A solid October for builders’ merchants

Total Builders Merchant sales in October were the highest since GfK began compiling BMBI sales data in 2014. However the impact of inflation cannot be ignored, with many construction and home improvement sectors reporting substantial price increases over the past 12 months.

Builders’ merchants’ sales to roofers, builders and contractors were up 10.0% in October 2017, compared with October 2016, helped by one additional trading day. Among top categories, Tools were up 12.3%, Heavy Building Materials (+11.1%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+10.6%). Average sales a day (which take account of trading days) were up 5.0% in October for merchants overall.

One more trading day helped October sales increase by 5.0% compared with September. Timber & Joinery Products (+6.4%) was among four categories doing better than merchants generally. Average sales a day in October exceeded September by 0.3%.

The latest three months (August to October) were 6.2% up on the same three months in 2016, with an equal number of trading days. Year-to-date sales (January to October) were 4.9% ahead of the same period last year, and Timber & Joinery products did better (+5.4%).

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions, BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage says: “The market for metal rainwater was up around 7% in value in quarter three, compared to the previous quarter, boosted by price inflation from rising raw material costs and exchange rates that never recovered from the announcement of Brexit. The increase is also driven by the growing demand for colour, and for metal products and the flexibility of metal systems to deliver bespoke designs.

“We’re seeing a surge in enquiries and orders for aluminium fascia and soffits. New colours like Anthracite grey to match the colour of windows are particularly popular. Homeowners appear increasingly interested in colour and how it enhances the exterior look of their home

“The steel rainwater market is growing particularly in social housing and new build as local authorities and developers realise the benefits in performance, colour choice, durability and long trouble-free life of metal solutions compared with plastic. And with the cost of steel similar to plastic, it makes little difference to the overall cost of the project.

“Above and below ground metal drainage is becoming the material of choice for fire performance. Following Grenfell, specifiers are looking for better performing products that meet stringent fire standards with cost becoming less of a restricting factor.”

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.