From the numerous conversations I have held with leaders from within the industry, two phases have stuck with me - "we have put measures in place to adapt for the new normal" and "we are cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year". One thing's for sure, we are a resilient industry!
Only this week I have spoken with two large building product system manufacturers who have witnessed monumental growth since May, and only expect this to continue. There have been a number of reports from house builders that they are returning to normality and, importantly, a third system manufacturer told me that they are witnessing strong orders within commercial build.
Latest figures from the IHS Markit / CIPS UK Purchasing Managers Index saw figures return to above the 50 point threshold, to 55.3. Importantly, they point to growth not only in housing, but also across civil and commercial projects. Admittedly, this does not predict future orders for Q3 but hay it's a good start!
Feedback on the government actions to stimulate the economy has equally been met with a good degree of praise (albeit, not from all quarters).
Johnson's £5bn pledge to accelerate key infrastructure and public buildings projects certainly helps, as does the further relaxation of planning consent; as do the £1bn Public Energy Fund to decarbonise public sector buildings and £2bn new Green Homes Grant.
With a further £3bn promised for the Green Economy Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, anticipates that this will cut the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by half a megatron and create 140,000 jobs in the sector.
Ibstock's CEO, Joe Hudson, believes there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about these moves, with the manufacturers facilities now fully operational. Given their position within brick manufacturing, I take this is a solid barometer to how the housing market is likely to shape over the coming months.
In a report issued this week, Savills highlight the stamp duty holiday for homes under £500k should lead to a real driver for the housing market . Granted, first time buyers have enjoyed reduced fees for a while, but with the average value of a home now standing at £248k, that represents a saving of £2460 for home buyers. This should stimulate the housing chain across the board.
Furthermore, the report points towards the fact that this move will enable people to move to areas where employment is higher, thus further developing local economies and drive growth within the RMI market.
I've read a lot around feedback from leaders within a myriad of markets the industries serve. When compiling these with my own conversations, I estimate two-thirds of feedback gathered point towards a tough but upbeat outlook of what the rest of this fiscal year looks like. No doubt it will be tough, with causalities an inevitability but, unlike the 2008 crash, there are pockets of investment (both private and public) and with hard work and a degree diversification, firms are likely to come out of this situation in reasonable shape.
And lets not forget, unlike a lot of industries, ours continued to work through the lock down and so go into the middle of summer with a degree of leverage.
He will reveal that the Government plans to pump £5bn into accelerating key projects across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Johnson’s “New Deal” puts construction in the engine room of the government’s economic growth strategy to support jobs and national renewal.