Ibstock Comment: Q1 2019

Tony France, Sales Director Ibstock is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks.

GB brick manufacturers continue to increase production volumes, demonstrating a significant commitment to satisfy growing demand from the UK market.

In Q1 2019, there were just over half a billion bricks produced in Great Britain, a growth of 6% compared to Q1 2018. This is the highest Q1 production volume since 2008, before the recession.

Despatch volumes in Q1 increased by 3% against last year. However, this year’s strong March sales are set against last year’s March performance, which was affected by extreme winter weather.

While GB brick stocks are at relatively low levels, the volume of bricks in GB manufacturers’ stockyards has increased by 45m – comparing the end of March 2019 to the end of December 2018.

Despite continuing Brexit economic uncertainty, this build-up in stocks mirrors positive market news. A recent NHBC announcement reveals that new home registrations in Q1 2019 increased by 3% against the same period last year. Early indications are that April registrations are also strong. Similarly, according to the Housing Pipeline report issued by HBF and Glenigan, permissions in 2018 were granted for almost 370,000 new homes. That’s the second highest total on record.

Positive anecdotal feedback from builders’ merchants also points to very encouraging sales in April 2019, boosting the robust outlook for brick sales in the foreseeable future. GB brick manufacturers have increased production and have stocks on the ground to support this demand.

Many construction areas are affected by Brexit uncertainty, but at Ibstock we use the product advantages we have to optimal effect. Our products are all manufactured in the UK, by a workforce who are virtually all UK nationals, in new larger UK factories in which we continually invest. The raw materials and packaging for these products also come mainly from UK-based quarries. Only a few engineering spares are required from non-UK sources, for which we hold significant stocks. We are confident that this will mean we are well placed to take advantage of market changes and opportunities.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.