Paul Roughan, Trade Merchants Sales Director Dulux Trade, is BMBI’s Expert for Paint.
How do we sum up Q1? Uncertainty is the buzz word. Brexit didn’t happen, but continued uncertainty puts heavy pressure on the trade paint forecast for 2019.
The trade paint market is expected to fall by 0.5% this year with low consumer confidence being a key influencer. Private Housing RMI (Repair Maintenance and Improvement) is by far the biggest sector for paint in the UK. This low consumer confidence translates into a reluctance to invest in those larger home improvement projects that are vital in driving paint volumes and the market in general. This is compounded by the fact that there are fewer homes for sale. A reduction in the number of house moves means fewer reasons to decorate.
But there is some good news! March was a terrific month, particularly compared to last year’s performance in the extreme wintry weather. Categories worst hit last year now see double digit volume growth: exterior trim (+29%) and masonry (+24%). The masonry category was in decline before last winter but subsequently has recovered well. Perhaps better weather prompted a surge in desire to protect properties through painting? However, builders’ merchants in general have not enjoyed the same levels of growth from the exterior category as other merchant channels. Maybe there are lessons to be learnt there.
In terms of market trends, the whites’ category is gaining share at the expense of ready mixed colour. Colour mixing has remained broadly flat. With this continuing trend, it’s important for manufacturers to innovate in the whites’ category and for merchants to identify the opportunities to trade up. In the builders’ merchants channel, the decorative category, although important, tends to be seen as a secondary category, a project completer. There are though, many examples of merchants using a targeted category approach, presenting decorative paint ranges well with simple, effective point of sale. They also reap the rewards of investing in product training for store staff to identify opportunities to trade up.