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(Almost) Mid-term Report

May 13, 2014

As we’re approaching the halfway stage of the year ­– which seems to be hurtling by – it may be an idea to take stock of certain aspects of it.

 

As we have all noticed, most of the figures concerning the economy in general and the building sector in particular, seem to be heading the right way. In last week’s Editor’s Corner Comment, I mentioned that statistics needed to be treated with a degree of caution but unless you have the power to distort like Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984, improvement in performance is there to be seen and welcomed.

 

The latest figures we have from Glenigan and Markit appear to sustain the belief that the construction/building sector is pulling away from that dreadful period of recession.

 

The Glenigan Index for May (which covers the value of projects starting on site during the previous three months) was up 10% year on year, with strong growth in private housing, hotel and leisure and utilities sectors. It found that private housing had remained the main driving force behind UK construction growth, with project starts up by 21%.

 

All of this was confirmed by the Markit/CIPS report where higher levels of construction output have now been recorded for 12 months running. Residential construction was the best performing broad area of activity, and the rate of expansion in April remained one of the fastest seen over the past 10 years.

 

As we know, the concentration of the resurgence in building has been concentrated in London and the South East which will bring its headaches and as we know to our cost, every ‘bubble’ tends to burst at some stage.

 

Exhibitions

Of the two exhibitions I have been to this year, one thing that appears obvious is a name change for both of them.

 

Ecobuild – if you went to ExCel in March, was it very ‘eco’? This is more of a general building show, now with a faint, green tinge. Since its takeover by UBM, there is no doubt that it has lost the focus on which it was originally launched and support from exhibitors it once had. This may be also due to the recession but when you look at the continued growth and success of fensterbau in Germany, this doesn’t really hold water.

 

Counter Terror Show – yes, there were military vehicles and other hardware on view to deter suicide bombers and kindred spirits at Olympia last week, but many stands were displaying items that simply offered greater security.

 

FIT Show – this is the most pertinent one for our sector and given its barnstorming debut last year in Telford, we can only hope it sustains its momentum in 2014. (10-12 June 2014, Telford International Centre.) Some that exhibited last year, like hardware company, Mila, have decided to opt out but as long as others fill the gap, the event should go a long way in meeting expectations. A look at the floorplan tells its own story with Halls 1-3 sold out. The organiser has wisely decided not to be greedy and the next FIT Show will be in 2016.

 

On another note, we have just received confirmation that Synseal Extrusions has joined the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF). When it was previously owned by Gary Dutton, there was a resistance by the PVC-U extrusions business to joining trade associations. This move will obviously be good news for the Federation which has been courting the Synseal team that succeeded Gary and Nick Dutton for some time.

 

So, compared with the gloom of previous years, 2014 has already provided much more overdue cheer.

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