Pace of construction quickens

The strengthening in the sales of construction products over the last three months exceeded manufacturers’ expectations, according to the latest figures from the Construction Products Association. The association’s activity barometer records a score of 68, well above the no-change mark of 50. This improvement in sales volumes follows a period of little improvement during the first half of the year, after the decline in output during 2005. Manufacturers expect a further strengthening in sales growth during the coming three months. Allan Wilén, the association’s economics director, says, ‘The survey findings conform that the construction industry is continuing to recover from the poor results seen last year. Sales of light-side products are leading the upturn, with an exceptionally strong reading of 75, as firms that supply DIY and consumer-related products have reported a recovery in orders during July after the World Cup disrupted sales in June. ‘However, encouragingly, heavy-side manufacturers have also reported a marked improvement in their sales volumes — albeit against a poor third quarter of 2005.’ Mr Wilén elaborates, ‘Looking ahead, light-side firms remain especially positive, both for the final quarter of 2006 and the coming 12 months. Firms report that the new Building Regulations have started to lift the sales of energy-saving products, a trend that is anticipated to gather momentum over the next 12 months as a growing proportion of the buildings under construction are built to the new regulations. ‘There are indications that improved consumer confidence is beginning to lift private-sector activity, and we anticipate that stronger economic growth should underpin industry into 2007. However, the position remains delicate, and slow public-sector investment clearly remains a brake on the construction-products industry. Improved delivery of promised investment from Government would make all the difference.’



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