Mathew Whitehouse, Marketing Director at Bostik UK is BMBI’s Expert for Adhesives and Sealants.
As we enter the second half of the year, the momentum in the industry shows no signs of slowing. Business confidence is high with the latest economic forecasts predicting that UK construction activity will surpass 2019 pre-Covid levels by early 2022, fuelled by greater public sector investment in education, health and infrastructure.
Unlike in Q1, we’re now starting to see more activity taking place in branch, with merchants keen to discuss new merchandising and POS opportunities. Alongside this, many customers are continuing to work on improving their online presence, with requests for better imagery, videos and user-friendly descriptions becoming a regular occurrence. This is something Bostik welcomes, and it’s fair to say the pandemic has been a wake-up call for those who have previously neglected their online activity.
While there are many reasons to be cheerful, there are still challenges ahead. The biggest challenge currently faced by most in the industry is security of supply. Raw material shortages, particularly those sourced from overseas, are limiting availability for some products and putting pressure on manufacturers’ cost bases. To keep disruption to a minimum, it’s vital that communication lines between supplier and distributor remain open, especially if there’s any major changes in end user demand.
Although it’s not something we’re currently experiencing, a shortage of common construction materials – timber, plaster, steel etc. – could affect the viability of planned projects going ahead, which could have a knock on effect for manufacturers of light side products.
As we (hopefully) enter the post-Covid landscape, we need to remain agile in the face of an ever-changing regulatory framework that, until now, has lacked real guidance. New rules, such as UKCA marking brought about by Brexit require significant investment and resource to ensure packaging stocks are stable and customers remain compliant. Those who’ve taken early action will stand to benefit when the rules come into place.