Stacey Temprell, Marketing Director British Gypsum is BMBI’s Expert for Drylining Systems.
The final quarter of 2019 was dominated by two issues: Brexit and the General Election. But more certainty around the direction of our Government has had a significant impact on business and consumer confidence and brought with it a much-needed sense of purpose and direction as we enter a new decade. What happens next in terms of our actual departure from the EU and ramifications for our own industry remains unresolved. For now, all we can do is focus on the positives that are emerging from the construction sector.
At British Gypsum, we ended quarter four 2019 with positivity. After a year of managing an allocation process, which had far reaching and significant consequences for our customers, we were able to announce at the end of December that the allocation process had been lifted. It’s difficult to get a real sense of demand when you’re allocating materials amongst your customer base. However, we tracked our customers closely during the period and we know that although domestic RMI was weak in Q4, the positive sentiment from the General Election result caused significant improvements in the GfK Consumer Confidence Index. Taking high employment and low inflation also into account, consumer confidence will hopefully return, prompting decisions around major home improvements works to be taken.
More broadly, the construction industry has shown some positive signs. The Construction Purchasing Managers Index has risen recently, new orders fell at the slowest pace for ten months and business optimism regarding the year ahead rose to its highest level since April 2018. This optimism is also supported by the latest RICS Construction Market Survey, which saw a rise in the balance for workload expectations. All in all, after a turbulent year, we enter 2020 with renewed energy and drive and I hope to report on a positive Q1 2020 in my next comment.