Strong 2016 for builders merchants

Another strong set of results for the final quarter of 2016 completes a further year of growth in sales of building materials through UK builders merchants.

The latest figures from the Building Merchants Federation’s (BMF) Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) Q4 report has shown that generalist merchants generated annual revenues in excess of £5.44bn with sales value growth of 5.2% on 2015.

The BMBI report shows total merchant sales in Q4 2016 were up 5.5% on the same period in 2015 as a mild, dry autumn extended the season for external works.

Heavy Building Materials (up 7.1%) was one of the best performing categories in Q4, driven by several key sub-categories including roofing products, lintels and plasterboards/plaster products.

GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data, which represents over 80% of the value of the builders’ merchant market, is used to create the Builders Merchant Building Index of actual sales to builders.

Commenting on the results, John Newcomb, BMF managing director said: “Despite fears around the Brexit vote mid year, another strong set of results for the final quarter of the year is certainly encouraging. In addition to GfK’s national data in the BMBI report, the BMF’s own sales indicators, which confirm that the final quarter of 2016 wrapped up three years of growth in the sector, provide a valuable insight into regional sales. It is interesting to note that some of the highest percentage increases are currently occurring outside London and the South East, which are normally considered the busiest areas.”

“Looking forward, we also found a largely optimistic sentiment in the first post-Brexit State of Trade survey of BMF members, with the majority forecasting further growth in Q1 2017.

“Against this, however, respondents cited economic uncertainty as the largest expected constraint on sales over the next 12 months, along with uncertain future demand and the impact of rising prices.”