Private house-building and infrastructure construction remain the key drivers to growth but the rise in sales was more widespread than that seen in Q2, suggesting a broader base to recovery is developing.
Construction Products Association (CPA) economist Milja Keijonen said: “The third quarter of 2013 saw sales significantly rise across the board. Exports supported the growth but even the domestic market showed signs of recovery. Heavy side products, commonly utilised early in construction projects, recorded widespread growth in sales both on an annual basis and quarter-on-quarter. Sales of light side products such as fittings and services also increased strongly after a broadly flat Q2.
“Looking ahead, product manufacturers are increasingly optimistic about Q4 sales growth and most are expecting higher sales over the next 12 months. The wider economic outlook has steadily become more positive, which should support recovery in construction and demand for building products. We note that employment for product manufacturers is still flat, though sentiment is increasingly positive."
Ms Keijonen added: “Altogether, the results highlight the improving state of the market; however, concerns do remain about the sustainability of the recovery with most manufacturers reporting that domestic demand could prove to be a future constraint.”
Half of heavy side firms reported sales growth of more than 5% quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year.
Trading conditions among light side producers improved significantly and around 60% of companies, on balance, experienced a rise in sales from a year ago and quarter-on-quarter.
Expectations suggest that conditions are set to improve further over the next three months with 67% of heavy and 66% of light side companies, on balance, expecting sales to rise in Q4.
Cost inflation was widespread across the industry with energy and transport costs driving higher unit costs.