Neil Hargreaves, Managing Director Knauf Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation.
Like everybody, we’ve adapted to a ‘new normal’ over the past few months. Our commercial team have swapped face-to-face meetings for virtual ones so we can stay close to our customers, and even speak more frequently.
Face to face training has also become virtual. By the time you read this, for example, we’ll have launched our new series of 15-minute online training modules for merchants. Each module focuses on a specific insulation topic or application to help merchants better serve their customers and make the most of link-selling opportunities as the industry recovers.
Of course, the big question is just how rapid recovery will be. This report shows that merchant sales in May were 40% down on last year, though they rose sharply compared to April. At Knauf Insulation, we have seen increasing demand since the beginning of May, helped partly by the recent stamp duty relaxation.
There are other reasons for optimism on the outlook for insulation. The government’s widely publicised Green Homes Grants of up to £10,000 a home for home energy efficiency improvements will provide an obvious short-term boost. We await further details on how the scheme will work to see how it will affect merchants.
The real boost comes if the Green Homes Grant is just the start of a national investment in the energy efficiency of UK homes. The current consensus on the need for major public investment to create jobs, improve housing stock and meet emissions goals gives us a historic opportunity (and the reality is, there is no path to achieve net-zero without widespread retrofits using high quality insulation).
We’re playing our part to ensure that the opportunity isn’t missed. The chancellor’s announcements followed a successful campaign run by the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, supported by the Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA) and partners including Knauf Insulation. We’ll continue to talk to government to make sure energy efficiency remains at the top of the agenda for a green recovery.