Monday, 20 November 2017

UK commercial and industrial doors market regains pre-recession level

The commercial and industrial doors market increased by an estimated 3% in 2016, following 4% growth in 2015, though there are indications that the growth rate is slowing in 2017.

Key factors underpinning growth in the market have included the increase in private commercial and industrial new build and non-residential RMI since 2012. While the market for industrial doors regained their pre-recession level in 2016, commercial and personnel access doors remain nearly 7% below its 2008 peak.

Sub-sectors within manufacturing such as transport, aviation and food production, have helped sustain construction demand for a variety of door products - from high insulated systems for refrigerated units, to large transport warehouse industrial doors. The chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors also require very high-quality door systems and materials including high value specialised hygienic products developed for use in these industries. Changes to building regulations and increased requirements in terms of security, as well as sustainability issues, have also helped to assist market growth with increasing emphasis placed on higher-quality products.

The market for personnel doors is directly related to commercial and industrial new build and RMI demand, which declined between 2008 and 2012, but has seen continuous annual growth since 2013. In overall terms, the industrial doors market has demonstrated erratic trends at times with demand sometimes bucking an otherwise falling economic trend with rising demand. More importantly, an underlying steady level of servicing and maintenance expenditure has also contributed towards smoothing out demand.

Jane Tarver of AMA Research commented: “The market outlook for commercial and industrial doors over the next few years is positive, but forecasts indicate only modest growth in the short-medium term, based on a slowing trend of new construction orders and the uncertainty affecting business confidence and investment levels as a result of the Brexit process.”

Short-medium term prospects in construction activity in 2017/18 have gone from modestly optimistic to ‘relatively cautious’, with variations between construction sectors. Modest growth is currently forecast in the leisure and industrial sectors but with the commercial offices and retail sectors forecast to show short-term decline as they come under pressure reflecting reduced confidence and investment levels. 

Given the above background, the forecasts are that the commercial and industrial doors and shutters sector will show low to modest annual growth from 2016-21, with only 6% overall value growth currently forecast 2016-2021.

Demand will continue to focus on automated systems, more energy saving and security door systems, and for sustained RMI work across sectors leading to some market growth in the replacement market, while new build volumes for both personnel access doors and industrial doors will see lower rates of growth. Product innovations and increased security and insulation properties for both personnel access and industrial doors are also likely to be key factors underpinning market value into the medium-term.

The report (Commercial and Industrial Doors and Shutters Market Report – UK 2017-2021 Analysis)  is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

Photo: Via Shuttestock

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Job in Focus: National Sales Manager for Lift Management services - £100k OTE

Our new Job in Focus is for a National Sales Manager selling a service into Main contractors, ideally based in the South East of England. The opportunity is working for a rapidly growing  provider of lift management solutions targeting contractors on major commercial projects. On offer is a very competitive salary with fantastic commission scheme that will see the successful candidate earn a OTE of £100k.

Our Construction & Building Industry Job in Focus feature takes a detailed look at some of the fantastic sales & marketing construction and building materials job vacancies currently on our books. 

Job in Focus is also promoted on our website. 


Job Title: National Sales Manager
Job Ref: J9714
Product: Services
Location: London & South East
Salary: £100k


PACKAGE: Up to £65,000 with monthly bonus OTE £100k, company car, fuel card, pension, healthcare, mobile phone, laptop and holidays. 

EMPLOYER: Well respected contractor within the crane and lift management market, specialising in quality service and meeting the customers expectations. They are a rapidly growing business with loads of opportunity for both personal and career development. 

JOB DESCRIPTION: National Sales Manager - focusing on developing sales within the crane hire market place. The successful candidate will be selling the business on its USPs and services trying to create demand working on major commercial projects. Your main focus will be on targeting main contractors. There are already strong relationships with a number of loyal accounts but there will also be a strong element of creating new business within the area. Moving forward this role will move into a management position with the needs to look after a sales team and recruitment for further positions. 

AREA: National - ideally living in the South East - Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, 

PERSON: The successful candidate will have experience within the construction market place, ideally with crane hire or heavyside product knowledge but the client is open as long as the candidate has strong contacts with contractor sector. The successful candidate with be ambitious and very driven personality who wants to prove themselves within a growing business. A lot of opportunity for growth and the successful candidate will be heavily rewarded for there efforts. 

For further information or to discuss your career options contact Stuart Entwistle on 01480 405225 or apply online.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

More good news from the Housebuilding sector

The housebuilding continues to bring the building industry positive news, after Wimpey reported a strong second half to 2017 last week, McCarthy & Stone, Bovis, Crest Nicholson and Barratt Developments all issued positive statements to the City. A strong housebuilding sector is good for all involved, manufacturers, distributors, merchants, developers, architects, contractors and builders

McCarthy & Stone announced its financial results for the full year ending August 31 2017, which show record revenues for the firm up 4% to £661 million although total legal completions at 2,302 were similar to last year (2,296). Underlying profit before tax was £94.1 million (FY16: £105.0 million). The firm said that the results were in line with market expectations.

The results reveal a “strong” forward order book at November 10 2017 of £277 million (November 11 2016: £250 million) with workflow on track to support the firm’s growth strategy and deliver around 80 new sales releases in 2018, up on the 52 in 2017.

McCarthy & Stone CEO Clive Fenton said: “We achieved a strong result in the second half of the year and delivered an improvement in both margins and volumes compared to the first half of FY17. Our full year completion volumes were in line with the prior year despite some headwinds as a result of the increased level of uncertainty in the secondary market and the expected lower number of first occupations.  We delivered to market 49 high-quality new developments and maintained our exceptional build quality and levels of customer satisfaction. 

“The group starts the new financial year with a strong forward order book and a robust balance sheet.  We have sufficient land under control, much of which already has detailed planning consent, to deliver our strategic growth plan of building and selling more than 3,000 units per annum.”

McCarthy & Stone has been exploring additional revenue streams to diversify its business model including a strategic relationship with Places for People (PfP Capital) to supply homes for rent – the firms says 17% of older people have indicated that they would rather rent than buy, equivalent to around 2 million people.

The firm has also been piloting a new scheme to build bungalows as an alternative product for retirees.

Bovis, meanwhile, in a trading update says it is making encouraging progress towards its medium term targets “with continued improvement in customer satisfaction and excellent progress in optimising the balance sheet and bringing additional cash into the business,” according to group ceo Greg Fitzgerald. “We expect to have a net cash position of at least £100 million as at 31 December 2017.  Trading is in line with expectations, the market remains strong, and we are on track to deliver another disciplined period end."

Bovis is fully sold for its targeted FY 2017 completions with an average sales rate over the period of 0.52 (H1 2017: 0.48), and the firm says pricing remains “robust” and it expects to deliver an increase in the average selling price for FY 2017, largely driven by changes in mix with a modest increase in underlying prices.

Bovis says its HBF Customer Satisfaction rating on completions since February 1 2017 has averaged 75%, equivalent to a 3-star rating and the firm remains confident in achieving its medium term target of a 4-star rating.

Crest Nicholson has continued to grow overall housing volumes this year, issuing an update on its financial year ending October 31 2017, Crest’s overall housing unit completions in 2017 rose 2.3% to 2,935 homes against 2016.

Its open market average selling prices improved 5.4% to £391,000, which Crest said tallied with its “well established strategy to position the business at around this pricing level”.

Underlying sales rates for 2017, excluding PRS, averaged 0.77 sales per outlet per week against 2016’s 0.81, reflecting the increase in Crest’s average selling price and to a degree, Crest said, the softer central London market. Its average number of sales outlets increased 8.5% to 51.

As of the end of October, Crest’s total forward sales were 13.6% ahead of 2016 at £391.4 million.

Crest said the housing market was “generally robust” across the group’s operating areas, but transactions in central London were “suffering from some volume and price weakness”.

It added that “whilst there may be some impact” from ongoing economic and political uncertainty, the fundamentals of the new build housing market remained strong.

The housebuilder expects growth in revenues across all tenures and reported sales for the year to be around 6-7% higher than 2016.

Stephen Stone, Crest’s CEO, said: “I am pleased to report yet another year of growth for the group.  The business continues to increase the number of homes built and carries positive momentum into 2018 with strong forward sales.”

Barratt, covering the period from July 1 to November 12 2017, said the robust demand across its regions was reflected in its net private reservations per average week of 268, against the 265 of the equivalent period in 2016.

The volume housebuilder launched 79 new developments during the period (2016: 69), operating from an average of 373 active outlets compared to 2016’s 370.

Total forward sales as of November 12 2017 grew 8.4% to a value of £2,876.0 million, equating to 12,843 plots (November 13 2016: 11,733 plots).

David Thomas, Barratt’s CEO, said: “We have started the financial year strongly with a good sales rate, driven by customer demand for new homes, and supported by an attractive lending environment. We remain committed to quality, build excellence and market leading customer service and are working hard to increase the supply of houses across the UK.” 

Photo via Shutterstock

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Taylor Wimpey reports “strong” second half

There is still lots of good news to be found in the building and construction industry, despite concerns about the future, this has been shown by the promising news announced this week that Taylor Wimpey performed “strongly” during the second half of 2017

The volume housebuilder said that sales rates for the second half of the year to date were 0.71 sales per outlet per week against the 0.70 achieved in the equivalent period last year. Over the past eight weeks, the sales rate has been 0.73, in line with the same point in 2016.

At the same time, its current total order book is slightly down on last year, at 8,751 homes (2016: 8,981), standing at around £2.2 billion against 2016’s £2.3 billion.

Taylor Wimpey also said it expected a “modest cash impact” in 2017 from addressing leasehold issues, with the majority of the outflow to be spread over approximately the next two years. It made a provision in its first half accounts, before tax, of £130 million for dealing with leasehold matters. Today it said it had reached agreements with freeholders allowing the “substantial majority” of its customers with a ten-year doubling lease to convert ground rent terms to a structure based on the retail price index (RPI).

The business added that it was set to deliver FY 2017 results according to expectations, with further growth and performance improvement anticipated in 2018. At the same time, it remained “alert to the potential risks from heightened political and economic uncertainty”.

Pete Redfern, Taylor Wimpey’s ceo, said: “Taylor Wimpey has performed strongly during the second half of 2017, delivering excellent sales rates and making further good progress against our operational targets. While we are alert to potential political and economic risks, demand for new housing remains high across the UK and market conditions are favourable.

“Notwithstanding the recent small increase in the base rate, we have continued to see stability in trading patterns.”

Monday, 13 November 2017

Construction Output Falls for a Second Quarter

ONS figures published last week show that construction output contracted 0.9% in the third quarter of 2017. This is a downward revision from the preliminary estimate of a 0.7% decline released in October and follows the 0.5% fall in output recorded in Q2.
Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: “At a headline level, today’s data shouts ‘construction recession’, marked by two consecutive quarters of falling output. However, output remains at relatively high levels – 1.1% higher than a year ago and 7.1% higher than 2015 Q3.

“There is also a clear variation in performance by sector, as highlighted in the CPA’s forecasts. Private housing output rose 1.8% to a record high during the quarter, with demand and confidence sustained by the Help to Buy equity loan. The £10 billion extra funding for the policy announced last month will maintain impetus in house building, with greater certainty over affordable rent-setting also supporting building by housing associations.

“Nevertheless, areas of weakness include private commercial, where new orders have fallen for three quarters and signal a lack of offices and retail projects to replace those now coming to an end. This is echoed in the public non-housing sector, which is suffering from lower volumes of work on schools and a dearth of new large hospitals projects.”

Friday, 10 November 2017

Construction Growth in Q3 but Weak Orders Weigh on the Outlook

The Construction Products Association’s Construction Trade Survey for Q3 shows that despite rising costs and diverging performance across sectors, the industry extended its run of growth to eighteen quarters.

The survey of main contractors, SME builders, civil engineering firms, product manufacturers and specialist contractors found that the construction supply chain reported increases in sales, output and workloads in the quarter, driven by increased demand in private housing, repair and maintenance and infrastructure. Net balances for enquiries and expected product sales for the year ahead remained muted, however, and contractors' order books were sustained by work in only three sectors: private housing, housing R&M and non-housing R&M. New orders were reported lower in sectors such as commercial, industrial and public non-housing, which account for one-third of construction output.

The effects of the Sterling's depreciation in the second half of 2016, following the EU Referendum, are still pervasive, with 92% of main contractors, 85% of heavy side manufacturers and all light side manufacturers reporting a rise in raw materials costs in Q3. In spite of this, only a small proportion of contractors are increasing tender prices and, as a result, 31% of main contractors reported a fall in margins, the worst balance in five years.

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Commenting on the survey, Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the CPA, said: "This 18th consecutive quarter of growth reported by the industry stands in contrast to the construction recession in preliminary GDP data from the ONS. There is a clear division in fortunes across sectors, however, with weakness in the commercial and industrial sectors offset by strength in new build private housing, a sector where demand and confidence remain supported by the Help to Buy equity loan.     

"In common with the wider economy, the construction industry continues to experience cost inflation, particularly for raw materials. A clear consequence of the supply chain trying to absorb these higher costs is the fall in contractors' profit margins since the start of the year. Combined with a smaller pipeline of upcoming work in some key sectors, the survey’s more mixed view on near-term industry prospects is not surprising."

Suzannah Nichol, Chief Executive of Build UK said: "The latest Construction Trade Survey result highlights the industry's continued growth, contrary to ONS’s statistics, with both contractors and specialist contractors reporting a rise in output during Q3. However, a lack of required skills remains a concern, with labour availability issues continuing to impact on contractors' business performance. Build UK believes industry needs to recruit, train and retain a skilled workforce and we are working with members, government and other key stakeholders to ensure that this remains a key priority."

CECA Director of External Affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said: "It is good news that our members see growth in infrastructure, to the benefit of businesses and communities across the country. However, uncertainty continues to act as a drag on the ability of the construction industry more generally to boost the economy. Ahead of the Autumn Budget, we are calling on the UK Government to commit to the projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, to secure the foundations of a strong economy, drive productivity, and deliver post-Brexit growth."

Key survey findings include:

  • 40% of main building contractors, on balance, reported that construction output rose in the third quarter of 2017 compared with a year ago
  • 20% of specialist contractors reported a rise in output during Q3
  • 24% of civil engineers, on balance, reported an increase in workloads during Q3
  • On balance, 21% of SME contractors reported increased workloads in Q3 compared to three months earlier
  • Main contractors reported higher orders in private housing and both housing and non-housing R&M
  • 13% of civil engineering firms reported an increase in new orders in Q3, on balance
  • 26% of SMEs but no specialist contractors reported an increase in enquiries in Q3, on balance
  • Overall costs increased for 82% of civil engineering contractors, whilst 92% of main contractors, 85% of heavy side manufacturers and all light side manufacturers reported raw materials costs rose in Q3.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

We've been together for 40 years! NMBS MD celebrates career milestone

NMBS managing director, Chris Hayward is celebrating a major career milestone. 

October 2017 marked 40 years since he first started working for the UK's largest buying society for independent builders', plumbing and heating, timber and hardware merchants.
Chris first became part of the NMBS team on the 17th October 1977. He joined the business as an office junior - a position which at the time was the equivalent of a modern day apprentice. It's perhaps fitting given the nature of NMBS that this first role was within the finance department.
Over the next four decades, Chris enjoyed continued progression and the opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of NMBS' core service offering. After starting as an office junior, he worked within various roles in the finance department whilst studying business studies and for an accounts qualification in the evenings.
He was promoted to Sales Ledger Supervisor in 1980 and then to the role of computer manager in 1982 where he enjoyed the added responsibility of preparing the company accounts.
He held this latter post for nine years and during that time played a key part in helping NMBS to embrace the digitial revolution and in managing the buying society's shift to EDI and more computerised methods of operation.
He was promoted to the position of commercial manager in 1992 at the age of 31 before becoming marketing communications manager at 34 and then marketing director in 1999, aged 38.
Two years later, he was promoted to the position of managing director at the age of 40. Reflecting NMBS' ability to recruit and retain good people, he is only the third MD in the company's 54-year history. He follows in the footstep's of John Tatton, who actually appointed Chris in 1977, and the buying society's second MD, Paul Hayman.
Chris' 40 years of service to NMBS was recognised with a special commemorative presentation at the NMBS Dinner Dance.
Commenting on his anniversary, Chris said "I joined NMBS as an apprentice and four decades later I still see the apprenticeship continuing. There is always something new to learn, new challenges to face and new opportunities to act upon which can help NMBS with its on-going efforts to strengthen independents."
He adds: "I've seen many changes over the years with many of the most significant developments stemming from advances in IT and the advent of the internet. I've also enjoyed many highlights and made many good friends amongst both our members and our suppliers.
"I'm looking forward to building on my achievements and experience to date and building a company legacy which supports dynamic and continual change with a real commitment to lifelong personal development."

Monday, 6 November 2017

Cost Increases Reported by 90% of Construction Product Manufacturers

UK construction product manufacturers are expecting slower growth in sales and activity as cost rises and slowing construction output continue to weaken market conditions, according to the CPA's State of Trade Survey for 2017 Q3.

Results of the survey showed that 10% of heavy side manufacturers reported an increase in sales in Q3, compared to 40% reporting a rise in Q2. On the light side, 36% of product manufacturers reported higher sales, decreasing from a balance of 55% in the previous quarter.

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The weaker performance in Q3, along with rising costs for raw materials, fuel and energy, echoes the slower construction activity already seen across industry data and recent surveys. It has also lowered manufacturers’ expectations for product sales in Q4. On balance, no firms on the light side anticipate an increase in sales during the October to December period, whilst 21% of heavy side firms expect sales to decline.

The construction products manufacturing industry has an annual turnover of £55 billion, directly providing jobs for 300,000 people across 22,000 companies. Products range from ‘heavy side’ materials such as steel, bricks, timber and concrete to ‘light side’ products such as insulation, boilers, glass and lighting. For the year ahead, 28% of heavy side firms anticipate an increase in product sales, whilst on the light side, 33% of firms expect sales to increase.

Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist said: “For construction product manufacturers, the near-term outlook is being clouded by the perfect storm of a broad-based rise in input costs, slower economic growth and signs of an emerging weakness in construction activity outside of private housing.

"Overall costs increased for 90% of all manufacturers in Q3. Although the survey showed inflationary pressures are anticipated to ease slightly over the coming year, the industry has turned noticeably more pessimistic about the strength of activity in coming quarters. New orders in construction fell to the lowest level in three years in Q2 and the survey suggests this will start to filter through to reduced activity on site by the end of the year."

Key survey findings include:

  • A balance of 10% of heavy side firms and 36% of light side firms reported that construction product sales rose in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the second quarter
  • On an annual basis, sales rose for 30% of heavy side firms and 45% of firms on the light side, on balance
  • On balance, 21% of heavy side manufacturers anticipated a fall in sales in Q4, decreasing from a balance of +7% in the previous quarter
  • On the light side, no firms expected an increase in product sales in the next quarter, compared to a balance of 20% in Q1
  • Annual cost increases were reported by 90% of manufacturers on the heavy side and the light side
  • Raw materials costs rose according to 85% of heavy side manufacturers and 100% of those on the light side
  • 78% of heavy side manufacturers and 67% of light side manufacturers anticipate a rise in costs over the next year.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Construction activity rises slightly in October

UK construction companies signalled that business conditions remained subdued during October.

Output growth was largely confined to house building, which partly offset lower volumes of civil engineering and commercial activity. Moreover, the balance of construction firms expecting an increase in business activity over the next 12 months eased to its weakest since December 2012. Caution in terms of the outlook for construction workloads meant that employment numbers increased at one of the slowest rates seen over the past four years.

At 50.8 in October, up from 48.1 in September, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI® ) moved back above the 50.0 no-change mark. However, the latest reading was weaker than the post-crisis trend (54.7) and signalled only a marginal rise in overall construction output.

Commercial building decreased for the fourth month running in October, which survey respondents liked to worries about the UK economic outlook and subsequent delays to decision-making among clients. Civil engineering was the worst performing sub-category, with some firms citing a lack of bigticket infrastructure projects to replace completed contracts.

A solid increase in residential building work underpinned the slight upturn in overall construction output during October. The latest rise in housing activity was faster than in September, but still subdued in comparison to the average for 2017 to date.

October data pointed to a marginal increase in new work across the construction sector, thereby ending a three-month period of decline. However, the rate of new order growth remained weaker than recorded at any time from mid-2013 to early last year. Survey respondents generally cited fragile client demand, with heightened economic and political uncertainty acting as a brake on growth.

The index measuring construction firms’ expectations for business activity over the year ahead signalled that optimism dipped to a 58-month low in October. Anecdotal evidence widely linked the drop in confidence to concerns about UK economic prospects and a lack of new projects in the pipeline. As a result, job creation remained subdued in October and input buying increased only marginally.

Intense supply chain pressures were recorded again in October, driven by low stocks and constrained capacity among vendors. Some firms noted that a recovery in demand for construction products across the euro area had added to cost pressures, alongside the weaker sterling exchange rate. Input prices increased sharply, but the rate of inflation remained softer than the near six-year peak seen at the start of 2017.

Tim Moore, Associate Director at IHS Markit and author of the IHS Markit/CIPS Construction PMI® : “Greater house building was the sole bright spot in an otherwise difficult month for the construction sector. Sustained declines in civil engineering and commercial activity meant that large areas of the building industry have become stuck in a rut. “Reduced tender opportunities and fragile demand are placing a dark cloud over the near-term outlook. October survey data indicated that UK construction companies are now the least confident about their forthcoming workloads since December 2012. Staff recruitment has also begun to tail off as construction companies head into the winter with heightened concern about demand conditions.

“The recent soft patch for civil engineering activity has been the most severe for around four-and-a-half years, linked to a shortfall of new contracts to replace completed work on infrastructure projects.

“Commercial building also fell in October, with survey respondents noting that concerns about near-term UK economic prospects had impacted on private investment and led to delayed spending decisions.

“Residential work has been a key growth engine for construction so far in 2017. However, some firms commented on renewed apprehension about the durability of house building outperformance, which has been achieved against a backdrop of sustained policy support and ultra-low interest rates.”

Duncan Brock, Director of Customer Relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “Though construction orders have shown a small improvement for the first time in four months, the sharp fall in business confidence will send a chill down the spine.

“With the lowest optimism since December 2012, purchasing managers blamed a slowdown in work from commercial clients, vanishing civil engineering projects and an increasing weariness over Brexit for the lack of performance, weak pipelines and slowdown in job hires.

“Supply chains were under the cosh again this month, as buyers struggled to get the materials and products they needed due to low stocks and squeezed supply, exacerbated by increased construction demand in the Eurozone. There were also reports of increasing shortages in some raw materials which slowed work already underway.

“Housing continued to show the strongest foundations and is set to be the main driver of growth in the coming months but the prospect of softer consumer demand and rising costs will impact. Any heavy reliance on residential building alone would be foolhardy with interest rate rises on the horizon and availability of skilled workers lacking in the sector, unless the Chancellor pulls a rabbit out of the hat and supports the training of new construction workers, the pound recovers some stability and a surge of supply capacity become available.”