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Construction products market continues to climb

CPA State of Trade Survey

Latest CPA survey shows UK construction manufacturing achieved growth for fifteenth consecutive quarter

SALES in the UK construction products manufacturing market continued to climb for a consecutive fifteenth quarter in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2016, according to figures published in the Construction Products Association’s latest State of Trade Survey.

On an annual basis, 78% of heavy side firms reported that sales had increased in Q4, whilst on the light side, 75% of firms reported that sales were higher than a year earlier, which was the highest balance since the third quarter of 2014.

However, as uncertainty intensifies and cost pressures from the fall in sterling post-referendum begin to hit this year, the Association says the industry may struggle to experience similar growth.

Among heavy side manufacturers only 6%, on balance, anticipate a rise in sales over the first quarter of 2017, whilst 29% of light side manufacturers anticipate a rise during the same period.

Rebecca Larkin, the CPA’s senior economist, said: ‘Construction product manufacturers ended 2016 on a strong note, with half of manufacturers on both the heavy and light side reporting an increase in sales in Q4, marking not only a fifteenth consecutive quarter of growth, but also the highest balances for the year.

‘Unsurprisingly, manufacturers’ expectations for 2017 appear to have been tempered by the uncertainty surrounding the economic and political outlook. Heavy side manufacturers appeared most exposed to the effects of Sterling’s depreciation during the second half of 2016.

‘In Q4, two-thirds of firms reported an increase in costs, the highest in five years, and a further 89% anticipate an increase over the next year. Rising costs of imported raw materials continue to be a primary driver of cost inflation, but there is now an indication that currency weakness is filtering through to higher energy and fuel costs too,’ said Ms Larkin.

‘The impact of Brexit on the construction industry is, as yet, unclear, but it is unlikely this year will be as buoyant as the last unless government is able to provide greater certainty and the industry is able to manage cost pressures,’ she concluded.

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