AWMS comment: Q3 2018

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.

Quarter three was a very mixed period, which ended in a particularly poor September. This was surprising given that many sectors in the construction industry had pulled back volume in Q2 from sales lost in the first quarter. It’s hard to explain it, with suggestions that more people have taken to holidaying in September. More likely, I believe it is down to a decline in construction orders and projects being delayed because of persistent uncertainty and concerns over the possibility of a ‘No deal’ outcome to Brexit.

However, October was a lot better and we’ve seen good indications for November so far. Perhaps people just want to get on with Brexit now?

The rainwater sector is busy with the residential sector performing particularly well. High-rise residential is also buoyant, with significant growth in projects where aluminium fascia, soffits, copings and cills, such as our Skyline product, are specified – particularly in one of the many shades of available grey! Grey is an increasingly popular choice as specifiers look for a contemporary look in a high-performance long-life product.

One of the most interesting and significant developments is the surge we’ve seen in requests for bespoke products. We believe this trend is one of the many consequences of the skills shortage. Bespoke solutions – a form of off-site construction – can save on-site time and labour, while guaranteeing a predictable quality construction when contractors are struggling to maintain the necessary level of skills on site.

Civils is a very cautious sector of the market. As I mentioned in last quarter’s report, there are a few factors contributing to this caution, including postponed projects and the need to catch up on projects which had been delayed by the extreme bad weather in Q1. There is also much rebidding going on in the contractor base.

Given the current political turmoil, we are also cautious for the immediate market outlook, the winter ahead and the run-up to Brexit as we get ready for that all-important date in March.

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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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