IKO PLC comment: Q3 2018

Paul Owen, Commercial Director Distribution IKO PLC is BMBI’s Expert for Roofing Products.

Quarter three delivered mixed fortunes for the roofing sector – depending on region and sector – a situation that we have seen for most of the year. The BMBI Heavy Building Materials category, in which roofing performance is included, grew 2.4% in Q3 compared to Q3 17. This growth was a mix of a strong July (+6.8%) petering out to a negative performance in the month of September (-1.3%).

For the roofing sector specifically, merchants and distributors report Q3 roofing sales significantly up on a strong Q2. More importantly for the long-term picture, sales are up on Q3 2017 with independent merchants performing particularly well.

The new build private housing market is again keeping contractors busy, particularly in the North West and the Midlands. This activity has been buoyed by the Government’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme. The new housing markets in London and South East, however, continue to lag behind the national picture.

Within the Repair Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) sector some contractors report that workloads are a little quieter than in previous years, although this varies by region and sector. However, overall there has been sufficient work to keep the trades busy, with fewer days lost to bad weather as a result of the long hot summer.

Many contractors report that they have recovered time and sales lost to extreme bad weather in quarter one and are back on track for 2018, with order books to take them through quarter four and into 2019. This is very positive news for the sector.

While all eyes are currently on the turmoil and political fallout at Westminster and the Brexit negotiations, and continuing forecasts of dire consequences for the economy and construction, the sector itself is getting on with it. It seems that there is enough optimism in our industry and, at the end of the day, the nation will always need a roof over its head.

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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.