Midland Lead Comment: Q3 2020

Lynn Street, Sales & Marketing Manager Midland Lead is BMBI’s Expert for Lead.

Without stating the obvious, the last few months have been globally turbulent and unpredictable. Nobody could have planned for the events that have unfolded over the summer of 2020.

Every day is now a new day in a ‘new normal’ with its own challenges, whether it’s with staffing due to people having to self-isolate, or issues with the supply chain and extended delivery terms.

However, the construction sector stayed open for business, and it will remain open as we move into winter. The construction and roofing sectors have been busy, which opened up opportunities for many, while posing many challenges for others. It could have been a lot worse – we could have dipped into a recession in the summer.

Builders’ merchants are resilient and have proved this by adapting quickly, especially with regards to managing staff shortages, extending opening hours, and taking a fresh look at how they operate by introducing e-commerce and embracing digital technologies.

Looking to the next quarter, we cannot push aside Brexit as that will have an impact on supply of raw materials and recruitment. Unfortunately, it is still difficult for us to have a clear vision. Let’s hope the winter months are politically quiet so Government can focus on delivering a clear roadmap to Brexit. As a sector, it is also difficult to forecast potential price fluctuations due to the uncertainty around import tariffs. We expect that to become clearer as the effects of Brexit settle later in 2021.

I do believe however, that it is crucial that none of us lose sight of the long-term while we are stuck in the here and now. Our ambition for 2021 is that the construction and roofing sector return to steady growth, by investing in sustainable manufacturing practices, bridging the skills shortage and forging ahead with a five-year vision.

Although the business rule book has been re-written many times, my message is to look after your mental health and be realistic. As we approach the end of a very difficult year, don’t forget your long-term plans, although your journey may be different.

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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.