Builders’ merchants sales rise in Q2

Published:  24 August, 2015

The latest sales figures from GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel, released today (24 August) by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), show sales in Q2 2015 through the UK’s general builders’ merchants were at their highest since tracking began last July.

Sales in Q2 2015 were up by 12.8% on Q1 2015, with total sales-out of £1.36bn compared to £1.2bn. Quarter on quarter growth was driven by sales of landscaping products, up 62.4%, and heavy building materials, up 13.5%.

The latest merchant data shows a dip in sales in April and May, and a bounce back in June with sales values up 12% on the previous month. Interestingly, although June was the largest trading month by total sales value since the Panel was set up last year, May 2015 recorded the highest revenue average per trading day (£22.6m) of the last 12 months. April was the next highest at £22.4m, with June at £21.85m. All three months in Q2 2015 outperformed the previous nine months on this measure.

The figures for Q2 2015 complete the first full year’s data from the Builders Merchants Panel. While there is no comparable data for Q2 2014, Q2 2015 was 1% up on last year’s Q3 performance, previously the highest sales-output. The latest stats also confirm that the UK’s generalist builders’ merchants generated ex-VAT annual sales of £5.1bn

For the first time, the BMF has combined data from GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel together with its own regular statistics, the BMF Sales Indicators in one overall report called the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI). The BMBI will now be produced monthly and will be the single source of authoritative market trends from the BMF to inform both the building materials supply sector and the wider construction industry.

John Newcomb, managing director of the BMF, said: “This is a milestone moment. The figures for Q2 2015 complete the first year’s data from the Builders Merchants Panel, and shining a light on these statistics instantly reveals some interesting trends aiding our understanding of the market. This will continue to improve as we add to the data each month and begin to track year-on-year performance. It made sense to combine this with our own longstanding tracking data, BMF Sales Indicators, in one authoritative report as the Builders Merchants Building Index. Unlike data from other sources, which tends to be based on estimates, or sales from the supplier into the supply chain, this valuable up-to-date data reflects actual sales to builders and other trades, and comes from the BMF as the authoritative voice of the industry.

“Looking forward, the outlook is promising for builders’ merchant sales, with consumer confidence at its highest since 2000, property transactions returning to pre-recession levels and the government’s pledge to build more homes and speed up the application process to do so.”

Looking across the full year’s data, heavy building materials (46.7%), timber and joinery products (20.9%) and landscaping products (7.9%) make up over 75% of total sales value for generalist builders’ merchants. The annual sales curve for the two largest product categories is tracked closely by decorating and renovation and kitchens and bathrooms. There is no surprise that landscaping sales are strongly seasonal, but trading patterns for plumbing heating and electrical, workwear and safetywear and renewables and water management also diverge significantly from the total market.

Mr Newcomb added: “We will, no doubt, learn more about these trends as our data builds in the coming months and years.”

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