Talasey Group comment: Q3 2017

Q3 was busy despite the dampening effect of price rises. We estimate 2017 market volumes are up by about 4%, and for a seasonal product, it’s good to see the end of the year still buoyant: landscaping is selling across the UK, except in bad weather. Long may this milder weather continue!

Shipping prices usually relax around this time of year but we haven’t yet seen any changes. However these are unpredictable times and we’re assuming shipping will rise again early next year so expect Indian natural stone price to increase early 2018. Sterling still hasn’t recovered and this has a negative impact on stone raw material costs and importing.

The definitive trend for 2017 has been ‘grey’ – from stone and polished concrete to Italian porcelain. Manufacturers are now making every grey variation they can, and I’m sure when all the 2018 landscaping brochures land at merchants’ doors there will be a sea of grey products to choose from.

The biggest winner is vitrified paving – a market that’s gathering speed as more and more merchants take the product into stock. Having stock on the ground makes it more accessible and a real alternative to the landscaper. This of course has been helped by prices coming down and consumer demand increasing. Next year we’re predicting a massive spike in vitrified paving sales. The worrying factor in this market is that cheap imported ceramics rather than true porcelain are entering the market, bringing quality issues and damaging the reputation of this premium alternative to stone or concrete.

There is currently a lot of noise about ‘British made’ products – even artificial grass is now having this badge applied, but don’t be misled by clever marketing. While some of the product is manufactured in Britain most of the yarn is imported from China, Turkey or Holland. When the major component is imported, how can these artificial grasses be called British? Always read the small print! It’s pleasing therefore to see that higher quality artificial grasses are this year’s winner.

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