Malcolm Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Talasey Group is BMBI’s Expert for Natural Stone Landscaping Products, Vitrified Paving & Artificial Grass
Brexit is still having a big effect on imports. Indian natural stone is at a higher cost in the market than we have seen for some time. Sterling is trying to recover but it’s a long way away from what it was, and buying fewer Indian Rupees. Shipping increased dramatically at the early start of the landscaping season. We expected prices to settle back down but like exchange rates it’s recovering very slowly and costs are still high.
Trends for this year seem to be “grey”: customers can’t get enough of this colour. Last year it was buff and cream. Unfortunately grey stone is in shorter supply and prices are slightly higher.
Merchants are slowly realising that rates are not the same as previous years so higher prices are filtering through to the domestic market and being accepted by end-users, builders and landscapers.
As predicted, a lot of smaller/medium size stone importers who weren’t willing to pay high container prices are now short of stock. Singles size flag stones are worst hit.
Despite price rises, April and May have been especially busy. We estimate market volume is up 3-4%. As reported last month, these price rises are closing the gap between natural stone and other premium hard landscaping products such as Italian vitrified porcelain paving. The combined effect of the trend towards stone and rising prices shows as strong growth this year in the value of sales. See the landscaping chart page 45.
Average selling prices of Vitrified ceramic and Vitrified porcelain paving have really come down, with most of the main suppliers offering a “trade type product”. We recently introduced a 18mm vitrified porcelain paver, and the demand has been overwhelming.
Artificial grass is also a strong and growing market, particularly for better quality grasses. Branch managers who haven’t got a POS or fixed roll display are missing out on new sales.
These are challenging times, but there are many opportunities, particularly with the extension of the landscaping season. We expect a very positive Quarter 3.
See the full Q2 Report here: https://www.bmbi.co.uk/the-index/