Bostik Comment: Q4 2021

The wider economy continued to recover in Q4 and it was particularly pleasing to see construction surpassing pre-COVID levels for the first time in November, ahead of economic forecasts. Infrastructure as a whole has witnessed a significant rise in activity.

This is all positive, however ongoing issues remain. Although the increase in raw material costs flattened slightly, supply chains are still experiencing bottlenecks. Many chemical companies are placing customers on allocation or calling force majeure, and, historically, slim manufacturing margins have meant further price rises. In addition, towards the end of last year we saw energy prices more than double. The combination of these factors makes further cost increases inevitable.

There are options for the industry to take action. One solution is alternative technologies, but this does take time to bring through.

In Q4, global attention also turned to Glasgow and the COP26 climate-change summit. During the summit, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) hosted an event that demonstrated how companies across the sector are already leading the transition to Net Zero as part of its Construct Zero programme.

From architects to builders through to merchants and the entire supply chain, we all have a vital role to play if we’re to reach the Government’s target of becoming Net Zero by 2050.

However, the volatile nature of business that we’ve all become accustomed to in the past 18-24 months provides us with an opportunity to challenge the ‘business as usual’ approach.

Can we convince end users to favour more environmentally friendly technologies? Are we able to use more recyclable materials in our packaging? Can we consolidate deliveries to reduce the number of lorries on the road?

Signing up to collaborative schemes like the CLC’s Construct Zero will help, but let’s ensure these conversations are happening between merchant and supplier at every opportunity. Let’s not do ‘business as usual’.

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