Tony France, Sales Director Ibstock is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks.
GB brick industry despatches in the first 6 months of 2018 were at lower than expected levels, due primarily to the ‘Beast from the East’ bad weather in the first quarter. However, there has been a recovery during Q2 and GB brick manufacturers’ despatches in the first half were just 1% down against the first six months of 2017.
Many housebuilders are expecting to build more houses in the second half of the year compared to the first half and builders’ merchants were reporting healthy demand for bricks, particularly in July, despite the welcome distraction of the World Cup.
In anticipation of a strong market, GB brick manufacturers increased production for 2018. The 12-month average industry production volume at the end of June was at its highest level in 10 years since the credit crunch when many factories were temporarily or permanently closed.
Despite the slow start to the year industry stock levels are relatively low. But this does not mean that UK produced bricks are not available: good quantities are in stock at brick manufacturers’ yards and in merchants’ depots around the UK.
And brick manufacturers are addressing capacity. In June, Ibstock was proud to host over 400 customers for the opening of our new Eclipse factory in Leicestershire and honoured to have James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, perform the opening ceremony.
Eclipse is steadily increasing production, up to its target of two million soft-mud bricks a week by the end of this year. To put that into context for the housing market, that’s enough to build an extra 15,000 houses a year. And we’re continuing to invest in our existing 20 factories for the benefit of our customers and the long-term future of the market.