Starting point for the road ahead
Featured in28 June 2012 - 16:39
New report sets out vision for more sustainable and competitive Irish construction materials sector
IRISH business development body InterTradeIreland has published a report entitled ‘A competitive analysis of the construction materials sector’, which aims to assist recovery in the construction materials sector through a series of practical recommendations to tackle capacity issues and to improve competitiveness.
The report was commissioned by a steering group comprising representatives of businesses in the quarry products, concrete and asphalt industries across the whole of Ireland, along with representatives from government development agencies.
On being presented with the study, Arlene Foster MLA, Minister of Enterprise Trade and Investment, welcomed the initiative of the industry in undertaking independent evidence-based research to address the challenges facing the construction materials sector in the years ahead.
According to the report: capacity utilization is currently around 27% of its peak in 2007; across Ireland, a significant aspect of the decline in the sector has been the loss of 12,300 jobs over the past four years; the prospects for any substantial uplift in the medium term are weak; and the high level of structural overcapacity within the sector, which the report estimates at 37% of existing plant capacity, means that an enduring process of rationalization is inevitable.
Given the findings about lower demand and usage of capacity, the report proposes a set of recommendations and a vision to provide guidance and support to the industry so that an adaptation to the new realities of the market place can be achieved.
The vision which is articulated is of a sector whose competitiveness both on and off the island is based on a combination of strong management capability, efficient use of resources/capacity, product quality and innovation.
Aidan Gough, director of strategy and policy with InterTradeIreland, commented: ‘While the road ahead is not straightforward, we hope that this report is the starting point for achieving a more sustainable and competitive outcome for the sector to the mutual benefit of the economies of Ireland and Northern Ireland.’
Gordon Best (right of picture), regional director of QPANI, welcomed the report and said he looked forward to the steering group continuing to work together. ‘It is now important to collaborate with the relevant actors and keep working together as a group to oversee the progress towards achieving the vision contained in the report,’ he commented.