Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.
A mild winter and spring has been good for trading, particularly for metal rainwater and drainage. Sales in the first quarter were up 6% on last year, ahead of expectations. Order books are good. But we’re expecting growth to slow because of delays in orders developing into sales.
The industry is experiencing ‘starvation in the supply chain’. Contractors have surplus work and are selecting which projects to progress, which is slowing sales. They’re not investing in more workers and are focussed on projects in hand. The skills shortage and uncertainty of Brexit is compounding the problem.Our industry desperately needs more skilled tradesmen but banks are not lending money and investment in new company start-ups is being held back until people know where they stand on Europe.
In civils, much of the growth is tied up in ‘what’s to come’. There is massive potential for infrastructure spend and it will happen, but we don’t expect to see the benefits for another 3-4 months.
Having been kicked back to the Commons by the House of Lords, potential amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill will affect the rainwater and drainage markets. The new Bill, currently in consultation, aims to improve the housing shortage, and could potentially fast-track thousands of new homes through planning. The extent of environmental impact assessment and consideration of sustainable surface water management has become a tussle between the Lords and Commons.
With more violent storms, heavy rains dropping more water in a day than previously fell in a year, and extensive flooding, the focus should be on designing buildings and surrounding hard standing with the capacity and resilience to cope with additional rainwater. We also need to balance the mix of soft and engineered sustainable drainage to achieve practical solutions at any scale. Overall it requires joined-up solutions and integrated thinking from rain to drain.