Andrew Simpson, Packed Products Director Hanson Cement is BMBI’s Expert for Cement & Aggregates.
In Quarter 3 2020 the uptick in a strong V-Shaped recovery, fuelled by pent-up demand after lockdown, benefited many businesses.
According to the Mineral Products Association sales volumes of mineral products recovered strongly over the summer, from a low base. Sales of primary aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and asphalt sales increased by about 50% in Q3 compared with Q2. Mortar sales, which ground to a halt in April as a result of widespread housebuilding site closures, rose by 148% over the same period. Year-on-year, across all mineral products however, volumes remain below Q3 2019.
At the time of writing, we’re back in lockdown. Lockdown 2.0 is bad news for the entertainment, sports and hospitality sectors, but better news this time for construction. Deemed essential by Government to the UK economy, it stays open.
Nonetheless, there is considerable uncertainty over a sustained recovery with a diversity of views as we head into 2021. Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey says it ‘expects results for next year to be materially above the top end of forecasts, with customer demand proving resilient.’ In contrast, the Construction Products Association says the housebuilding market is subject to volatility as the stamp duty holiday ends. It also highlights potential rises in unemployment, and the unknowns facing commercial projects over demand for office and retail space. And that’s before we get to the potential impacts of Brexit.
In a short period of time we have all adapted our working environments so they are safe for staff and customers, and so businesses can continue to operate effectively. We’ve also adapted how we communicate and sell to customers in this new normal, exploring and implementing new approaches for delivering value and building mutually-beneficial relationships. Identifying effective digital channels to engage with our market on key topics and keep our brand at the forefront has been integral to this process.
It’s been a year of sudden and constant change and I’m sure there will be more over the coming months. But it’s not all been negative. It’s also given us the opportunity to embrace change and become more productive.