Reports of the death of the UK construction industry are greatly exaggerated
As the New Year begins, Mark Wadsworth, Managing Director of Senior Architectural Systems, looks into the future of the construction industry and talks about the company’s plans for 2017.
State of the Nation
Despite the general doom and gloom in the media following Brexit and the Trump triumph, 2016 proved to be rather a good year for the UK construction industry.
Predictions of rocketing prices, abandoned projects and a slump in the housing market failed to materialise. Instead, 2016 saw a growth in the UK construction industry. According to the latest construction trades survey, the third quarter of 2016 saw the construction industry grow for a 14th consecutive quarter.
Firms across all areas of construction reported an increase in activity, including building contractors, SMEs, specialist contractors, civil engineers and product manufacturers. The October figures from the Office for National Statistics also show that compared with the previous year, new construction work increased by 2.9%.
True, forward-looking expectations for Q4 and the year ahead were more pessimistic, but the residential sector still looks strong with private new housing increasing by 2.4% in October 2016 compared with September 2016.
Senior’s Best Year Yet
The strength of the UK construction industry was borne out at Senior, with 2016 proving our busiest year to date. At our financial year end in June, sales were up 11% on 2015 at £27.2 million. Since then sales have increased month on month, as demand for our innovative PURe® glazing system, flexible SF52 curtain wall and elegant Ali FOLD bifolding doors continued to soar.
Investing for Growth
Based on the increased demand for our innovative new products over the last 6 months, plus recent significant contract wins at a very high strategic level, we are expecting a growth rate of around 10% for the next financial year. This growth rate is way ahead of the industry average, but we are so confident in the performance of our new products that we are investing heavily to meet forecast demand.
Expansion plans include a new warehouse for our Newport branch to open in January, further investment in our PURe® line to add to the recently installed polyurethane injection system, an additional polyamide rolling machine which will allow us to nearly double our rolling capacity, plus 7 new Mercedes Actros HGVs to join our delivery fleet in 2017. This will ensure we have the production capacity, stock levels and transportation to ensure fast delivery times and maintain our reputation for outstanding customer service as demand increases.
Capturing the Residential Market
In the past Senior was been best known in the commercial property world for our aluminium fenestration systems. However, with a huge range of slimline, thermally efficient aluminium and Hybrid timber composite windows, doors and curtain walling, Senior is now also making a name for itself in the residential market.
In fact, in 2016 two fabulous self-build homes featuring Senior’s products featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, showing the world that our glazing systems not only look fabulous but can also help to reduce energy bills. A win-win for any home owner.
Further growth in the residential sector is expected in 2017 as more and more people ask for our Ali FOLD patio doors.
A company is only as good as its products. Our product offering is now arguably the strongest it has ever been and the feedback on our new systems has been extremely positive. Indeed our PURe® system has now become a first choice for some of the UK’s top architects and contractors. But we’re not resting on our laurels. To make sure we maintain momentum in both the residential and commercial sectors, we also have new products already in development aimed at these growing markets.