Malcolm Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Talasey Group is BMBI’s Expert for Natural Stone Landscaping Products, Vitrified Paving & Artificial Grass.
It’s been a good start to the year with weather that’s neither too cold nor too wet for installing outside. Landscapers are busy and merchants are stocking up to meet demand.
Early last year, extreme cold brought in by the Beast from The East, prevented installers working outside. Later, that was followed by extreme summer temperatures which also made it difficult for installers to make up those lost sales. So Instead of the double-digit growth we’ve seen over the last few years, growth was reduced with the weather as the main culprit and much of the industry suffered.
The industry also struggled with supply problems in the last twelve months. One solution for Talasey was to find new sources of supply, starting with bringing in three colours of slate from Brazil instead of China.
Compared to its launch about two years ago, porcelain is now accepted as the norm. This year we are launching many new porcelain products we hope this will be our stand out product range for the year. With the arrival of new market entrants, prices are lowering and creating a new mass market.
Artificial grass is another product champion, which is bucking the trend compared to other landscaping lines. Further demand may come from homeowners frustrated by the state of their lawns in the summer of 2018. Bare brown patches baked hard in the sun is not what people want on their lawns. Nor do most people want to work at achieving the perfect green look and feel they can get from the best artificial grass.
Skill shortages are often blamed for holding companies back and the industry is urged to invest in training. In the fourth quarter we opened the Talasey Training Academy, which is now recognised as a BMF centre of excellence. Training covers all Talasey products including resin, stone, porcelain and artificial grass. Successful participants in our training courses receive a City and Guilds Qualification.
As I’m writing these comments everyone is buying huge quantities of stock and finding ways to store volume. This is a concern because we, along with other landscape suppliers, import from or through a European port. If the politicians get Brexit wrong, we will all be affected.