Tony France, Sales Director Ibstock is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks.
With the uncertainty of Brexit looming ever closer, there has been little perceptible impact on the demand for clay facing bricks. After a weather-affected start to 2018, with GB produced brick despatch volumes down 6% in Q1 2018 compared with 2017, Q2 and Q3 have seen a good recovery. Both quarters experienced 2% despatch volume growth against the same periods in 2017.
While overall GB brick despatches, therefore, are broadly flat year-on-year, there has been a significant increase in brick production. In the first nine months of 2018, GB brick manufacturers have produced 9% more bricks than in the same period of 2017, enough to build around 18,000 houses. That’s the highest level of output since before the credit crunch, 10 years ago.
Ibstock contributed with its new Eclipse factory now almost at full capacity and steadily increasing production towards its target of two million soft-mud bricks a week by the end of this year. In addition, a factory maintenance programme at some of our 20 factories will increase yields, improve quality and provide greater volumes for the growing market.
With the market anticipating further brick demand growth in 2019, the industry is finalising its production plans. It’s becoming increasingly important for our industry to improve schedule accuracy, so manufacturers can provide a more reliable service with greater certainty of availability and supply. Working closely with customers, Ibstock for example, has seen good improvement this year, and we’ll continue to prioritise customers providing the most accurate order and call-off information into 2019.
By working together in this way, the manufacturer, builders’ merchant and end-user will all benefit from enhanced certainty of supply, giving greater confidence in accurate and meaningful order quantities and delivery dates.
A key point to note is that Ibstock Brick manufactures all its products in the UK and does not rely on imported bricks. We do not expect any major impact from Brexit but are fully prepared for any potential issues we can foresee. While Brexit is creating uncertainty going into 2019, we’re determined that the brick supply chain will be doing the opposite!