Keystone Lintels Comment: Q2 2020

Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels is BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels.

Looking at Q2 2020 in isolation, the steep sales growth curve is what start-up businesses dream of. However, back to reality, demand for steel lintels in Q2 was in the range of 40% down on the previous year. Taking May and June together we see a slightly more positive position with the reduction halved. The trends are moving in the correct direction, and each month the market is improving. The small to medium enterprise (SME) market is posting a strong performance compared to the volume house building sector, which has been slower to return and has implemented strict social distancing rules.

The availability of lintel stocks and simplicity of service has been critical for merchants responding to customer demands, while working in an unusual work environment over the quarter. Manufacturers with a ‘can do’ attitude are vital in this supply chain partnership. At Keystone, we see specification and service as the two key focal points in delivering performance for our merchant customers.

New enquiries are running 20% behind the same period last year, linked to some companies being shut down for a substantial period of time and sites taking longer to finish. The net result is that those enquiry levels are an indication of future volumes. Merchants and manufacturers need to work together closely (yet two metres apart) to maximise each enquiry. As I mentioned in previous comments, embracing changing technology in communications to maintain the benefits of networking is vital.

The government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ agenda, bodes well for the future, but will it be enough when the furlough scheme comes to an end? Accessibility of finance and availability of mortgage deals will also be key.

The market is still focused on the delivery of revised Part L and the new Future Homes Standard, with carbon reduction targeted by at least 20%. This puts the fabric of the building and lintels, specifically thermally performing lintels with certification and a proven record, as one of the critical elements in the overall solution.

Keep safe and well.

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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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