Kevin Tolson, Commercial Director Wienerberger UK is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks & Roof Tiles.
Few in our sector could have predicted the rollercoaster ride that we’ve all been on since the first lockdown a year ago. However, as we enter the second half of 2021, the outlook continues to be a positive one.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that construction output in Great Britain fell 0.8% in May 2021, following a 0.7% decline in April. However, overall construction activity in June expanded at its fastest pace since June 1997.
Many manufacturers in the construction sector have seen high demand and are working with stakeholders up and down the supply chain to ensure that we maintain the positive momentum that has built up in recent months. RMI work continues to be a driver for growth. Research suggests that households have saved considerable sums during the pandemic and we’re seeing them invest that back into their homes.
One of the biggest hurdles that all industries have had to manage is the shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers. Based on a survey of its members, the Road Haulage Association estimates there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000. Other trades are also suffering, with the new build market affected by the availability of bricklayers. As we emerge from lockdown, we are also having to contend with increased numbers of people being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app having to self-isolate. Although this is moderating, it all makes planning and consistency of performance more difficult. Nevertheless, it’s a significant step forward from where we were in Q2 last year.
At Wienerberger we are always looking to the future. The extreme heatwaves and flooding that has been experienced in recent months in our global markets really highlight the importance of looking after our planet. It’s been great to see so many within our sector start to take positive steps in the right direction. Momentum is only just beginning, but over time will no doubt bring significant change.