Paul Owen, Commercial Director Distribution IKO PLC is BMBI’s Expert for Roofing Products.
The first three months of the year were very strong for the roofing sector with Q1 2019 sales significantly exceeding Q1 2018. But we had the ‘Beast from the East’ in Q1 2018 and with many days lost to bad weather in February and March 2018, the benchmark for year-on-year growth was always going to be a soft comparison. Taking that into account, activity levels were still above expectations – and above Q1 2017 too. Our increasingly optimistic roofing sector reports full order books, and there is a genuine buzz about the industry.
Investment in training is a continuing focus in the industry to ensure there is a large enough skilled workforce to meet continuing high demand levels. Contractors are keen to make sure that their workforce is up to speed, with traditional roofing applications and new manufacturer systems using liquid applied or self-adhesive membrane technology.
There are regional variations with regions outside the South East performing better than London. The Construction Products Association (CPA) forecasts an overall 0.4% fall in industry output, yet some sectors seem to have better prospects for 2019 than others. The infrastructure sector is forecast to perform positively while retail and offices are expected to face a significant decline in workloads.
When viewed in the round however, the uncertainty that surrounds the ‘will we or won’t we’ debate that continues to rage in Westminster seems to have passed roofers by. They are just busy getting on with the job. That isn’t to say that the roofing community is oblivious to the potential for disruption, but as we enter quarter two and wait for the Brexit bubble to burst, enquiry levels and order books remain quite strong.
To quote John F. Kennedy: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”