Reasons to be cheerful

As a new year begins, the Construction Products Association has some good news for the industry with optimistic predictions for the sector’s future.
SALES of construction products rose in Q4, driven by wider UK economic growth and key private construction sectors, together with strength in export markets.
Product manufacturers are also anticipating further growth in sales, both domestically and abroad, over the next year.


Those were the findings of the latest Construction Products Association State of Trade Survey.
Dr Noble Francis, Economics Director at the Construction Products Association, said, “In previous surveys, private housing was the key driver of domestic demand; however, Q4 has seen construction growth spread to other key sectors such as private commercial, the largest construction sector, and infrastructure.
“Demand for exports picked up in the second half of 2013 and manufacturers anticipate exports rising further in 2014, primarily due to wider economic recovery in key export markets combined with the relatively low value of sterling.
“As a consequence, a rise in product sales during Q4 occurred for the majority of manufacturers, across both heavy and light side products.
“Importantly, manufacturers reported that, overall, capacity is not a significant issue and is unlikely to be during 2014 despite an expected rise in demand.
“Of concern, however, manufacturers reported margins continue to be severely hindered by cost rises, especially in energy and transport fuel. In addition, manufacturers also reported that labour costs and materials costs rose in the fourth quarter.”
Other key points include:
67% of both heavy and light side manufacturers reported that sales rose compared with the third quarter.
61% of heavy side manufacturers and 67% of light side manufacturers also reported that sales rose in Q4 compared to one year earlier.
For 2014 as a whole, 73% of heavy side manufacturers and 85% of light side manufacturers are anticipating a rise in sales.
45% of heavy side manufacturers and 58% of light side manufacturers anticipated that exports would rise in 2014.
Over the next 12 months, 24% of heavy side and 25% of light side firms are anticipating that they will be operating at 90% capacity or above.
82% of heavy side manufacturers and 86% of light side manufacturers reported rises in fuel costs.
76% of both heavy side and light side manufacturers suffered from a rise in energy costs.