With the party season firmly behind us, it is back to business as usual and we thought we would take the opportunity to look back at 2017. The tragic events at Grenfell Tower remain foremost in everyone’s mind and the consequences for the industry are as yet unknown, but we fully expect to see changes over the coming months and years. Another key factor last year was price increases filtering down the supply chain as a result of strong market demand and the weak pound. This has a direct and immediate impact on the construction industry and everyone is feeling the effects.
Despite this, we have reason to be optimistic; for Eurobrick, 2017 was another busy year with good growth in sales. Sales of our cladding systems; totalled over 52,500 sq m last year, compared to just under 39,000 sq m in 2016. Enquiries for P-Clad were significantly higher particularly for larger scale projects. P-Clad has a cement particle board backer panel, developed to work as an external sheathing to structures and is certified for installation on buildings over 18m high constructed with a steel frame substrate wall. P-Clad is currently being installed on a major student accommodation development in Coventry city centre. We will be reporting on this project more over the coming months, so watch this space.
Brick slip sales remained strong during 2017, with over 2 million pieces sold. Our best-selling brick slip of last year was Smooth Anthracite from the Britannia Range. With its dark grey, smooth crisp finish, this brick provides a contemporary look, which is very popular.
Particularly active sectors last year included restaurant/bar interiors and new build residential developments. The modular building sector was also strong. Our estimating team reported a noticeable increase in the size of projects. Residential and student accommodation developments are embracing modern methods of construction (MMC) as the increasingly sophisticated nature of off-site design and manufacturing offers benefits in terms of quality control and speed of project delivery. Our cladding systems are versatile and adapt to most MMC techniques so allow traditional brick finish on a non-conventionally built building.
Our success last year brought with it challenges; most notably that lead times for some products and brick slips lengthened. Brick manufacturers are currently reporting lead times of anywhere between 4-26 weeks, depending on the brick colour required, and unfortunately in some cases the wait could be longer. We try to limit the impact of this by keeping customers advised of the availability of materials and we recommend early enquiries are made to discuss realistic lead times.
Going forward we remain optimistic. Despite many unknowns such as the impact of Carillion, Brexit and the current Building Regulation review (to name but a few), there is a growing market for well-designed systems, like ours, which offer a level of product consistency that is essential to the modern construction industry.