Malcolm Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Talasey Group is BMBI’s Expert for Natural Stone Landscaping Products, Vitrified Paving & Artificial Grass.
The ‘Beast from the East’ really hit external landscaping in the first quarter. March was almost completely lost, and we may never get it back, but the market has been recovering well since.
For hard landscaping and Indian sandstone there is little change on shipping and currency issues that will affect the cost of stone. Some products are hard to source: Modak – a very pink/red sandstone – has been very difficult. There has also been increased demand for larger format products – we are seeing a very high demand for 900 by 600 sizes for example.
Porcelain paving continues to be a massive growth area. Even the weather didn’t slow porcelain paving down. More and more merchant branches are stocking wider ranges with up to six different colours and lines, and landscapers are using their own design flair to mix products and textures. There also seems to be a move away from some jointing compounds. Installers are opting for flow-in mortars with harder strengths and better bonding properties.
Artificial grass is another strong growth product with many more branches stocking the 4m rolls and selling more of them as the product is taken more seriously. There is a lot of movement and consolidation in this market with company takeovers, and there’s possibly more to come. Some suppliers are having conversations directly with installers and taking sales from merchants, a practice that is not going to go down well in our market.
Sales of resin-bound aggregates suffered particularly from the weather as they cannot be laid on a wet drive. Many projects have been delayed but the sun in April has set the market flying again.
Finally, Happy Birthday to the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative). Indian sandstone suppliers should all be full members, as we are, but sourcing responsibly is the responsibility of merchants too.