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News » UK » Year-on-year growth for builders’ merchants » published 23 Feb 2016

Year-on-year growth for builders’ merchants

Builders’ merchants in the UK saw their sales rise 3% in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014, according to a new survey.

Sales of plumbing, heating & electrical products were up by 6.4% in Q4 2015 Above: Sales of plumbing, heating & electrical products were up by 6.4% in Q4 2015

However, sales were down by more than 12% compared to the previous quarter.

Since July 2014 the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF) has commissioned market research company GfK to compile members’ quarterly sales data.

Latest figures from GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel show sales in Q4 2015 through the UK’s general builders’ merchants were 3% ahead, year-on-year, with sales ex-VAT of £1.21bn. 

Comparing the second half of 2015 with the last six months of 2014, this shows a 2.8% increase in sales.

For the whole year, GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel recorded £5.15bn sales ex-VAT in 2015.

Sales in most building materials categories increased year-on-year in the fourth quarter.  Heavy building materials (which account for 46% of sales through general builders merchants annually) were up by 2.9%.

Timber and joinery products (which account for 21% of annual sales) were up by 3.1%. 

Sales of landscaping products increased by 7.9%.

Ironmongery was up 7.8% in 2015 Q4, year-on-year.

Plumbing, heating & electrical was up by 6.4%.

Decorating products were up 3.9%.

Sales of kitchens & bathrooms were up a more modest 1.3%.

Renewables and water management, considered a small volatile category, recorded one of the largest year-on-year downturns of -11.2%.  However, comparing Q4 to Q3 2015, it was one of only two categories where sales increased, up by 9.7%.  Plumbing, heating & electrical also showed a quarter on quarter increase, of 4.7%.

Overall fourth quarter sales were down by -12.4% compared to the previous quarter (Q3 2015).

This was attributed to seasonal factors and reduced trading days.  Adjusting for the number of trading days in both quarters gives a sales trend of -5.6% Q3 to Q4.  However, Q3 2015 had been the strongest quarter since GfK started tracking builders’ merchants sales 18 months ago. Q4 2015 also began strongly, with October outperforming September sales figures by 0.5%.

BMF managing director John Newcomb said: “We have reached another landmark.  GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel started in July 2014 and we now have 18 months of data. The Q4 2015 results complete our first full calendar year.  We can clearly see an upward sales trend emerging year on year.  Although the seasonality of the building year is reflected in the latest figures, Q4 continued the trend of growing faster year on year than the UK average level of 2.4% and also out performed retail volume growth of 2.6%.”

He added: “2016 has started well and, despite concerns over the global economy and the prospects of an in-or-out EU referendum, the CPA [Construction Products Association] is forecasting growth driven by housebuilding and infrastructure.  On balance, builders’ merchants are likely to be as busy in 2016 as they were in 2015.”






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This article was published on 23 Feb 2016 (last updated on 23 Feb 2016).

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