Statement from John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group
Construction activity continues to be strong across the UK, with government statistics and industry surveys indicating this is primarily led by the new housing, housing RMI and infrastructure sectors. Evidence suggests a positive pipeline of work ahead, including a high level of contracts awarded during the first quarter. With full order books, the current level of active demand across the entire construction industry will continue to put increasing pressure on the product supply chain.
In general, products are available but lead times have lengthened. Current demand is such that it is proving difficult for manufacturers and suppliers to build up stock levels.
The worst affected product areas continue to be timber, roof tiles and roofing membranes. There is unlikely to be any improvement in timber supplies this year with little or no timber currently coming into the UK that is not already pre-sold and global demand outstripping supply. However, the supply of roofing products is expected to improve in the second half.
Raw material shortages, stemming from global demand and other external factors such as factory closures outside the UK, continue to constrain production of PE and PP plastics, PIR insulation, paints, adhesives and other coatings, and also packaging for other product groups.
Global demand also continues to impact prices and delivery times on structural steel, internal steel products and galvanised steel. Evidence suggests that some steel products may suffer continued shortages into the second half of the year.
Pent up demand for landscaping products over the spring and summer may place an additional burden on supplies, but demand will continue to be met with longer lead times where needed.
Accurate forecasting can help alleviate availability issues. The CPA’s latest forecast was published this week and the BMF will publish their latest forecasts in May.
The CLC’s key advice is to plan in advance, work closely with your supply chain and communicate your requirements early with suppliers, distributors and builders merchants. Collaborative, ongoing communication throughout the whole supply chain is essential.
The Product Availability Group is also exploring further solutions to alleviate other bottle necks in the supply chain such as logistics and transport, including the ability to accept deliveries outside of normal opening hours.