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RCI March 2018

Project1_Layout 1 07/05/2013 BMBI UPDATE 01992 801927 www.almhm.co.uk Stronger fourth quarter wraps up a solid year for merchants 032 MARCH 2018 RCIMAG.COM Zink Copper Stainless The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) saw strong growth in 2017. Total Q4 2017 sales to roofers, builders and contractors were up +6.3% on Q4 2016, delivering stronger growth for the quarter, than the running average, which helped to push the annual growth numbers. Overall, merchant sales in 2017 fi nished 4.8% ahead of 2016 by value. Looking at Q4 in detail, total growth was supported by the two biggest value categories, Timber & Joinery (+7.3%) and Heavy Building Materials (+6.4%). A number of other product categories contributed to the strong fi nish, notably Plumbing, Heating and Electrical, and Tools (both up by +7.7%), Ironmongery (+7.3%) and Kitchens and Bathrooms (+6.6%). December slowed in comparison to both Q4 and the annual totals, but an extra trading day in 2016 hides the true performance. Growth per trading day grew faster than the annual average at +5.7%. Timber & Joinery at +8.6% was a major contributor, but internally focused categories – Plumbing Heating and Electrical +10.1%, and Kitchens and Bathrooms +8.9% – performed strongly year-on-year. Andy Williamson, group managing director IKO Plc, BMBI’s expert for roofi ng products, said: “It’s been a mixed picture for roofi ng in quarter four. Poor weather and storms at the end of 2017 damaged roofs, creating RMI work for roofers. Nevertheless, it’s diffi cult to get a clear picture overall of RMI trends. Political uncertainty and Brexit negotiations have sapped confi dence and indecision is holding markets back. “Like other manufacturers, we’ve become ambassadors for innovation. We’re sold on the benefi ts of innovation to end-users, contractors, specifi ers and merchants, but innovation also changes markets, and there are downsides to change.” Andy continued: “Innovations add value by improving product performance and extending product lifetimes, so customers enjoy more years of trouble-free performance. Higher performing roofi ng felts mean longer lifetimes, which carry better product guarantees, rising to 15 years in some cases. That’s a big benefi t to customers, but longer lasting products get replaced less often, which reduces the demand and the market for suppliers. “In contrast to RMI, poor weather through the winter months was bad news for specifi cation work with many projects on hold because bad weather prevented work on the roof. Longer lasting products with longer guarantees are also impacting on specifi cation work. Some hot melt products now come with 40-year guarantees. To summarise, private housing and the promise of large infrastructure projects continue to drive Left: Andy Williamson, group managing director of IKO Plc; below: BMBI’s December 2017 monthly sales chart adjusted for trading days construction. We hope we start to see the promise of this specifi cation work materialise!” www.bmbi.com The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) The BMBI is a brand of the BMF. The BMBI report, which is produced and managed by MRA Marketing, uses GfK’s Builders Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data, which analyses sales out data from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales across Great Britain. The full report can be found at www.bmbi.co.uk. Are you getting stuck on red tape? Steve Mansour, CEO of CRL, explains how to make red tape more manageable Housing is one of the top national policy challenges of our time, yet builders and developers are becoming stifl ed by red tape. In an industry calling out for new homes, this can really hinder those in construction – small to medium-sized (SME) builders and developers in particular – delaying them by pushing them off the starting block, let alone completing their build. So what is red tape? Previous reports have referred to this as the “complexity, unpredictability and inconsistency” of Britain’s planning system. We have defi ned it further as the planning process, i.e. plan tariffs, the length of time to achieve a planning decision and the associated costs. In our recent survey, this was one of the main barriers hindering SME builders and developers’ ability to build. In fact, 57% of those surveyed cited “the planning process” as the single biggest challenge faced last year. What’s more, a similar number (50%) believe this will continue to be the main hurdle in 2018. The fact that SMEs are continuously being held back by the planning system, which in turn, causes delays to their builds and an increase in costs, has been well-documented. Only last year, the Federation of Master Builders released fi gures that 49% of respondents rated this as the main constraint on their ability to build more homes. Yet, this red tape can often refer to the colour of a window sill, the protection of slow worms, or having to meet other taxing demands before they can start work. Each condition can require pages of offi cial documentation and hours of work to comply. To be clear here, we’re not suggesting cutting corners. In fact, we believe it’s important to get the job done quicker, to higher standards, without cutting corners, but simply cutting out the unnecessary red tape. How, you ask? Here are some tips below: Stay up-to-date with regulation There are several websites full of useful information on compliance. There’s really no need to be an expert, though knowing your key responsibilities and any regulatory changes will defi nitely help. Stick to your schedule We know some work depends on external factors. If your contractor fails to come to work, odds are your building schedule will lag behind. However, you can set aside time or specifi c days in the month to focus on big tasks like doing the books. Organise your paperwork Don’t let it pile up. Try to do a bit of paperwork every day, rather than letting it stack up until it turns into a paper mountain that could compete with Everest. Work with a like-minded company Loyalty is important but sometimes is just a way of wasting time and energy. If that company you’re working with is strangling you with bureaucracy, then maybe it’s time for a change. Some companies, like CRL, strive to tackle red tape bit-by-bit. Construction can be complicated enough without tripping over extra obstacles. Share knowledge Share your experience with others in your industry. Trade associations are a good source of constructionspecifi c advice to help you stay informed on best practice and issues around compliance. The construction sector is, after all, like one big family. Focus on what’s important Get your construction business moving by prioritising. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, keeping in mind important deadlines like VAT and fee payments, or planning permissions. This way you’ll feel more in control. Adopt new technology The construction industry is now facing important changes that will shape its future. Maybe it’s time to ride this new-technologies wave and adopt software that can save you time and money. There are plenty of apps and technology that will assist you with tasks like banking, budgeting, or scheduling. All of them could make your business more streamlined. Identify what causes the biggest headache in your business and outsource this task whenever possible. www.c-r-l.com/redtape


RCI March 2018
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