Ibstock Comment: Q3 2019

Simon Taylor, Director of Sales – Builders Merchants Ibstock is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks.

Brick manufacturing output has continued its robust upward trajectory for the nine months to October 2019, with the sector on track to match levels not seen since before the global recession of 2008-09.

In the first six months of 2019, UK brick production increased 2.2% year-on-year, equating to some 25 million additional bricks.

Unfortunately, the first half of 2019 has been characterised by a slowdown in housing starts, particularly in London and the South East. However, recent figures suggest that these trends could be more of a pause than a long term concern.

The latest set of NHBC figures show that completions are significantly higher on both a three month and twelve month rolling basis and the Q3 report confirms that smaller builders are showing a 4.9% increase on starts, which is particularly encouraging for builder’s merchants.

There’s no doubt that the current climate of political and economic uncertainty is having an impact on the construction industry but with demand still high and supply improving, the fundamentals of the market are strong even if they have become more challenging.

With that in mind, UK brick manufacturers continue to invest in production and range development; a sign of confidence as brick deliveries continue to improve, year-on-year, post-recession. This confidence is supported by stats from the NHBC, published in July, which reported that 43,438 new homes were registered between April and June 2019. In total, this is up 12% on the same period in 2018 (38,937) and the highest since Q4 2007, when 43,525 were registered.

With clay bricks remaining by far the most popular building material of choice for UK house builders, British brick manufacturers are well placed to meet the ever-growing demands of the housing market.

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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.

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