Malcolm Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Talasey Group is BMBI’s Expert for Natural Stone Landscaping Products, Vitrified Paving & Artificial Grass.
The landscaping sector had an incredibly busy quarter one. Customers are also saying that April looks like a record sales month.
Artificial grass was the hero landscaping product this quarter. With ever-increasing product quality for the best grasses and a UV guarantee as standard, they are perfect for a low maintenance small garden.
In other product areas, concerns that classic Indian stone would be affected by popular cheaper porcelain ranges from Turkey, Poland and India flooding the market have proved unfounded. Some higher-end ranges of stone and porcelain are a little slower, but some stockists are only just receiving new sample stocks to put together this season’s showroom displays. Landscaping products really need to be seen to be sold! Slate from Brazil – the new alternative to Chinese slate that was becoming difficult to source – is working well and proving to be very high quality.
The industry built high stock levels prior to the now-postponed Brexit deadline, but these are now being used to satisfy high demand. Talasey, for example, is now the second largest stockholder of stone in the UK with many acres of stock. However, being able to fund and maintain high stocks depends on shipping rates, which although always subject to fluctuations have now risen to very high levels. Everyone wants to import product into the country – not just the construction industry. This could mean shortages later in the year if some players decide not to pay such prices and take the risk.
Construction faces a skills crisis as a large cohort of over 55-year old builders and tradespeople prepare to retire, younger workers from the EU go home and UK school leavers are steered away from a career in building by misguided parents and teachers.
Taking the initiative for our own sector, Talasey is addressing the existing skills gap and recognising the need for accredited landscaping training. The Talasey Training Academy offers a wide range of City & Guilds accredited training courses. Our training manager is targeted to find potential candidates including men and women from schools and colleges as well as ex-military personnel and anyone else wanting to re-skill in a new industry.
In some areas of the country, there are long waiting lists for homeowners wanting new driveways or patios – the demand for our successful trainees is out there!