Paul Owen, Commercial Director Distribution IKO PLC is BMBI’s Expert for Roofing Products.
Quarter three has been a strong three months for the roofing sector, with sales up significantly on quarter two. This reflects an expected seasonal uptick for the RMI (Repair Maintenance and Improvement) flat roofing market, but more importantly these sales were also up on the same three months of 2018.
General merchants have gained from this increased seasonal demand, notably those who have invested in their stock proposition and in their skills and expertise. However, specialist independent roofing distributors who have positioned themselves best to benefit from this opportunity have gained even more. Some are reporting double digit growth over the same period last year. Not to be left out, the retail sector has continued to grow in the closing months of the summer season. Retail sales were up on the second and third quarter in 2018 and they’re on track to deliver year-on-year growth. And that’s despite Britain falling out of love with DIY. It seems our desire to keep a roof over a shed that’s full of expensive power tools we no longer use, is just the right type and size of job to get stuck into on a Sunday morning. It’s a job that can be finished in time to relax and enjoy the afternoon.
Looking at major projects, RMI in the education sector remained a key source of work for flat roofing specialists in quarter three, with the school holiday period once again a hive of activity. With such volumes of work for time-critical contracts, effective management of the logistics and supply chain is crucial. Merchants that can add value to this are positioned well to support and benefit from this demand.
Within the new build sector, flat roofing systems are the preferred choice on low-rise urban residential projects. They not only insulate, and keep the building watertight, but create a usable environmentally-friendly space.
Looking forward, contractor order books are full for 2019 and the early months of 2020. There is still, however, an undertone of concern that economic uncertainty may temper investment and stifle what has been a busy and successful period for roofing.