Latest data from the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reflects the continued strength of the private housebuilding sector and domestic repair, maintenance and improvement market in Great Britain.
The BMBI uses point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of builders’ merchants’ sales across England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland.
In the fourth quarter of 2017 there was solid growth in the two biggest value categories, Timber & Joinery (+7.3%) and Heavy Building Materials (+6.4%). A number of smaller product categories also added to sales growth, notably Plumbing, Heating & Electrical, and Tools (both up by +7.7%), Ironmongery (+7.3%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+6.6%).
Growth in annual sales was also driven by the largest product groups, with Timber & Joinery up 5.4% and Heavy Building Materials up 5.1%. Almost every category recorded sales growth in 2017, with just one minor area, Services, falling 2.0%.
John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: “Our results have appeared out of kilter with headline figures from the ONS [Office for National Statistics] for some time, but if you drill down into their reports the results are comparable. The lion’s share of merchant sales is driven by the housing market. While private housebuilding is forging ahead, assisted by Help to Buy, and private domestic RMI work is holding up well, the same cannot be said for commercial and industrial sectors which have seen a sharp decline post Brexit. We remain optimistic for continued growth in 2018, but I’m sure BMF merchants will be factoring in a number of outside factors – from monetary policy to Carillion’s demise – that could affect trading.”