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Brick manufacturers step up production


Ibstock and Wienerberger to bring additional 400 million bricks to UK construction market in 2014

AN additional 400 million bricks are set to be produced for the UK construction market this year, thanks to ongoing investments by Ibstock and Wienerberger, two of the largest brick manufacturers in the UK.

In preparation for the return to growth expected in the UK’s construction industry, Ibstock say they invested more than £22 million in the redevelopment of their factory in Chesterton and even recommissioned one of their previously mothballed manufacturing sites in Leicester at the height of the recession.

These measures have increased their capacity by an additional 125 million bricks, equivalent to 15,000 extra homes, and when combined with production enhancements at their other factories, mean the company is set to bring to the market almost an additional 200 million bricks in 2014.

Andrew Halstead-Smith, group marketing manager at Ibstock, said the company had foreseen the welcome return to growth now being experienced in the UK construction industry.

‘It was for this reason that we decided to make a significant investment in the redevelopment of our Chesterton facility, making it one of the most energy-efficient factories of its type in the world, and decided to start up production again at one of our mothballed sites in the midst of the recession,’ he explained.

‘We also ensured we retained our skilled workforce and supported them through these challenging times, so we were able to keep pace with the changing demands of the market.’

Meanwhile, Wienerberger have responded to the burgeoning demand for bricks by announcing a significant expansion of their brick manufacturing output.

The company is intending to increase its brick capacity by 200 million bricks between January 2014 and January 2015, the equivalent of approximately 25,000 new homes, and will be creating 120 new jobs across the UK in the process.

This capacity increase is being implemented by reactivating mothballed factories at Hartlebury and Ewhurst, investing in technology upgrades, adding shifts and new jobs throughout the company’s UK operations, and importing bricks from the continent.

As the world’s largest producer of bricks, Wienerberger say they are uniquely positioned for imports in that, although they operate 14 factories in the UK, they can respond to hotspots in demand by adding capacity from continental factories.

Harald Schwarzmayr, managing director of Wienerberger, commented: ‘This capacity increase shows our absolute commitment to ensuring that enough new housing is built to meet the requirements of the market. The UK needs a minimum of 200,000 new homes to be built each year, approximately 35,000 more than will be started in 2014.

‘With our capacity increases equating to approximately 25,000 homes each year, Wienerberger are capable of manufacturing the core material for more than 70% of the extra housing requirement needed.

‘We are also very much aware that we need to attract more young people into construction, and the 120 new jobs created should help provide opportunities to the next generation of construction industry workers.’

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