23 June 2017

Construction industry fortunes mixed

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“Mixed fortunes” was how the Construction Products Association described the performances of firms across the construction industry supply chain in the first quarter of 2017.

 

In its Construction Trade Survey, the CPA revealed that construction product manufacturers, specialist building contractors, civil engineering contractors and SME builders all reported an increase in sales, output or workloads during the opening months of the year.

 

However, main contractors reported that output fell in the first quarter, marking the first negative balance since 2012 Q4.

 

Expectations of future performance remained buoyant for product manufacturers, both on the heavy side (those at the beginning of the construction process), and firms on the light side, which includes finishing products.

 

However, main contractors’ order books were reported to be lower in all sectors except private housing, whilst civil engineering contractors reported a fall in orders compared to a year ago, which, in direct contrast to SMEs and specialist contractors, was the first negative balance in four years.

 

In the first quarter of 2017, 65% of heavy side product manufacturers reported an increase in sales compared to a year earlier, whilst on the light side, product sales rose for 38% of manufacturers.

 

However, 31% of main contractors reported an overall decline in building activity, led by falls in the industrial, commercial and R&M sectors. Forward-looking indicators suggest a similarly mixed view on the industry’s near-term outlook.