Mike Beard, Merchant Development Director Encon Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Insulation Products – Distribution.
The first three months started well for insulation with year on year growth through the merchants’ channel. The principal risk is price inflation, which was triggered by a sharp fall in sterling following the Brexit vote last year. The challenge is to pass these increases in full down the supply chain.
The other main risk is availability, especially in PIR insulation which is causing all sorts of difficulties. The worry is these will spill over into other insulation products.
Insulation is the ultimate ‘no brainer’ product: insulate poorly insulated homes and buildings – the UK’s are among the least energy efficient in Europe – and families, businesses, and Britain save money and carbon dioxide on heating and cooling from there on, with a fast, permanent return on investment. It’s hard to think of a reason not to improve energy efficiency. Yet Britain’s focus on energy efficiency appears to have lost impetus. It’s as if Government, of whatever stripe, can only focus on one aim at once: Britain needs both, more new homes and a better stock of homes.
An early election should give the new government a mandate for a positive and firm Brexit negotiation as well as creating a period of stability in which to pursue a strong focus on policy, including building more homes and upgrading the energy efficiency of our existing homes. Few give Labour much chance of winning, but it’s good to see their Manifesto committing to build more new homes, and committing to insulate 4 million homes with interest free loans and allowances to encourage homeowners and landlords to improve energy efficiency. Regardless of the election outcome, it guarantees an extended debate about these two critical challenges.
Consumer spending and confidence cooled at the start of the year, which cooled RMI, but consumers appear to have recovered their appetite for spending despite a looming general election. We hope a clear result will impact positively on business in the second half of 2017 and beyond.