John Coe, Commercial Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.
The year ended strongly with the civils, metal rainwater and drainage sector up on the previous quarter. As a business, we had a very strong last quarter with good sales in October, a positive product mix in November and a December that was also better than forecast. Year-end sales were boosted by the trade working right up to the final hour in December, as well as having reasonable winter weather.
Moving into the New Year, we have seen a very good start. January kicked off the year with a strong order book and high level of enquiries. Anecdotally, the same appears to be true for the rest of the industry. Provided the momentum is maintained we are looking forward to a positive market.
In the commercial market, there is continuing strong interest in bespoke solutions which offer an offsite solution. The challenge is to ensure resources match this growth in enquiries. In terms of product, lightweight steel rainwater is rising in popularity as its price point approaches that of a high-end plastic alternative. Steel rainwater brings the properties of strength and longevity, without colour fading or shrinking problems, to residential and commercial work.
The civils sector now looks forward to significant projects and investment coming down the line for 2019. Docks and airport infrastructure represent significant civils work including regional airports at Stanstead, Manchester and East Midlands and, across the sea, major project work at Dublin airport. High capacity slot drainage products are all benefitting from such projects going ahead.
Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations threatens to defer the start of many projects and puts a question mark over commitments in the pipeline. The industry needs to be confident that the increase we’re seeing in enquiries and tenders will convert to orders and live jobs. But, with a fog of uncertainty hanging over the entire Brexit process, at the time of writing, and with questions over Brexit itself, this can only lead to project delays despite such a positive industry outlook.