Kevin Tolson, Commercial Director Wienerberger UK is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks & Roof Tiles.
There are few industries as important to the British economy as construction. Making up over 6% of the UK’s GDP and employing about 8% of the nation’s workforce, the sector is a vital cog that helps our country continue to move forward.
As a key supplier to the industry, our business has mirrored the strong post-Covid recovery seen from July onwards, and there continues to be significant demand for brick and tile building materials. As we experience our second national lockdown, the sector remains open and busy, with producers and distributors of brick and tile staying open to serve customers.
The recent surge and resulting longer lead times can be attributed to an increase in demand from the major sectors of new build housing, and both public and private RMI (Repair Maintenance & Improvements). Developers are working hard to catch up for time lost due to the impact of COVID’s national lockdown. Public RMI spend has moved to external works, often roofing, due to restrictions on entering people’s houses, while private RMI has seen a boost due to homeowners investing in in their property in lieu of their lost annual holiday.
During this period, many manufacturers’ production facilities returned to partial or full production. Since then we have worked hard as a manufacturing industry to maximise the production from our factories, while adhering to the required social distancing protocols.
Customers, particularly merchants and distributors, may have struggled a little more than usual to obtain materials on the spot, and these delays impact building projects large and small. Lead times across the industry as a whole are a little longer than usual and may persist, particularly if demand continues as we expect, and remains strong through to the end of Q1.
Despite these grumbles, the short-term future (because who can look much further?) looks relatively positive and we continue working hard and keeping our customers informed, to offer as much predictability to the supply chain as possible.