Mike Beard, Merchant Development Director Encon Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Insulation Products – Distribution.
Insulation sectors are experiencing strong sales although it is unclear how much of this is catch up from the poor performance in the first quarter due to the weather.
The biggest concern in the sector is product availability in a number of key areas, most importantly in both glass and rock mineral wool. This supply issue is likely to worsen and might well encompass other products as the year continues. Inevitably this will fuel price inflation, putting more strain on the supply chain.
We are seeing stronger support for specifications, in light of recent obvious events, which is a good thing for the supply chain as quality and added value helps grow the market.
Another boost has been that the weather over the last twelve months has really shown the benefit of good insulation standards: keeping the warm air inside in the winter and allowing the opposite in the summer!
In summary, the market is generally performing well – with the exception of the commercial sector. Areas for concern, however, include the availability of labour and the inevitable protracted arguments on planning whenever somebody talks about the need to build thousands of new houses.
One other concern to a possible Brexit impact – one not yet openly discussed – is the change to imported building materials and their product standards. Currently Industry leaders and trade bodies are lobbying the EU to keep the UK as a full member of the European Standards Organisations. Such standards could apply to the products, their manufacture and their in-situ performance. The relationship between CE-marked products and those that are BBA approved has not been clarified post-Brexit. Will CE marking, a significant marker on product conformity, remain in place and be recognised or will BBA take over? This area is currently under discussion by, Industry leaders and trade bodies, but I fear that there is a possibility that Brexit will overtake the discussion and the supply of products might be impacted.
Despite these supply issues and other concerns for the future, it’s worth noting finally that house building has risen at the fastest rate since 2015!