TTF Press Releases

Strength of construction market places pressure on supply

The Builders Merchant Building Index yesterday revealed an 18.2% increase in sales of timber and joinery products in February 2021 as compared to February 2020. This is far ahead of all other products, with Total Builders Merchants’ February value sales 2.3% higher than in February 2020, with no difference in trading days.

At the same time our latest timber statistics show that the recovery in import volume seen in the second half of 2020 continued in January 2021 with timber and panel imports 12% higher than in January 2020. The volume of solid timber and panel products imported in January 2021 totalled 895,000m3, a 100,000m3 rise from January 2020’s total imports of 795,000m3.

Amidst Brexit and a pandemic, timber is being imported at high levels comparable to any other in the calendar – with previous years available to view in our Statistics Dashboard. Despite the timber supply chain delivering as much wood last year as it did in 2019, and with a clear projection we will do the same this year, when we are facing increases in demand across the board of this magnitude, it will be difficult to match supply to demand.

It is clear this trend is set to continue, with the CPA State of Trade Survey Q1 revealing 41% of heavy side and 48% of light side firms reported an annual rise in sales in Q1 as compared to 2020 Q1. Keep in mind this was before the full impact of the first wave of Covid-19. Demand will be sustained by general consumer demand, and the extensions to the stamp duty holiday and Help to Buy scheme.

At the same time there remains ongoing supply chain disruptions due to the reduced availability of shipping containers, and strong global demand. As a result of all these pressures, raw material costs remain the key driver of cost inflation – and it should be emphasised timber and steel are not the only commodities experiencing global supply-demand imbalances. There are plenty of other examples across the economy.

We understand the frustration felt by many, both among our membership, and the wider supply chain from this situation. Those merchants and contractors who have consistently used the same wood supply chain should know they are getting their fair share of the available wood supply, as allocations are being made in line with previous purchases.

This knowledge, however, is not always enough to placate angry customers! As always it is important to communicate across the supply chain and to be upfront and honest about the situation, hopefully pre-empting problems your customers may face. All timber suppliers are in the same boat and your customers should realise this. Now really is the time to work closely together to improve forward planning and forward purchasing, with collaboration across the supply chain being the only way to overcome the situation.

TTF will continue to update the market and to ensure groups such as the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), the BMF and STA are kept up to date. In the meantime, we wish you the very best of luck during these tight trading conditions.

Have a great weekend all.

News round up for your week

CPA weekly notes: In March, output prices of manufactured goods rose 1.9% year-on-year, up from 0.9% in February, according to the ONS. This marked the highest annual rate since April 2019 and transport equipment provided the largest upward contribution. Meanwhile, the input price index for manufactured goods rose 5.9% year-on-year in March, up from 3.3% in February and the strongest annual growth since September 2018. Six of the 10 product groups provided positive contributions to the input annual rate, with metals and non-metallic minerals the largest contributor.

CPA Webinar: Economic and Construction Industry Scenarios Spring 2021: CPA is hosting a webinar on the latest Construction Industry Forecasts 2021-2023, which will be published on Monday 26 April 2021. The webinar will be covering the outlook for the UK economy, focusing on how things have changed since the Winter Scenarios as well as the forecast, key issues, and risks in the key construction sectors. The webinar is on Wednesday 28 April 2021, 11am. Please register your details.

CPA UK Economic and Construction Update: The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index (a forward indicator of construction activity) in March 2021 was +29 compared with +17 in February and at its highest level since May 2016. In the sector breakdown, architects reported in March 2021 that housing was driving virtually all the growth in workloads with an uptick in commercial work in advance of the reopening of non-essential retail, hospitality, and leisure in the services sector. However, public-sector activity for architects remained flat in March.

Latest TTF monthly stats – April 2021: The TTF’s latest stats show recovery in import volume seen in the second half of 2020 continued in January 2021 with timber and panel imports 12% higher than in January 2020. The volume of solid timber and panel products imported in January 2021 totalled 895,000m3, a 100,000m3 rise from January 2020’s total imports of 795,000m3. Monthly report HERE (this is for TTF members only).

TTF guides members on the Code of Construction Product Information (CCPI): We have launched a detailed guide for its members to the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), including six key steps to assure business processes related to providing information and customer training are in line with the aspirations of the currently voluntary Code.

TTF Q&A Clinic Mon 26 April 12:30 -13:30: There are only a few days left until our TTF Q&A Clinic. The Clinic is for TTF members to share and ask questions related to all areas of their business operations, from plant health to UKTR due diligence.

Coniferous plywood quota balance: The current balance is 20,638.435m3, or 12.33% remaining. For the latest updates please see our page.

New TTF Member: We are pleased to announce our new associate TTF member, American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). AHEC is the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among hardwood companies, who now market and sell their products in significant volumes all around the world.

MHCLG Announces Independent Safety Review of Construction Materials: The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has announced the appointment of two experts to lead an independent review of the system for testing construction products. Paul Morrell OBE will be the chair of the independent panel, along with legal expert Anneliese Day QC. The review will examine how to strengthen the current system for testing construction products to provide confidence that these materials are safe and perform as marketed. The panel will engage with a wide range of stakeholders with a report published later this year with recommendations.

Labour unveils £30bn plan to create 400,000 green jobs: Labour leader Keir Starmer has announced a £30bn plan to revive UK manufacturing by creating 400,000 green jobs. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be supported in manufacturing sectors including steel, offshore wind, automotive and aerospace.

Construction minister pledges safety changes after Grenfell fire: Construction minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has promised to push through fundamental changes to housing regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire. She said a new Building Safety Bill would enshrine new standards into law, which would lead to “greater accountability for those responsible for managing building safety risks”. The Construction minister also stated that public procurement would have to embrace the move towards offsite manufacturing and other green development.

Timber and the Circular Economy Webinar for Specifiers: PEFC is hosting a CPD webinar on Thursday 27 May at 1pm for specifiers to learn more about how responsibly sourced timber fits within the Circular Economy agenda, through their fully-accredited Timber and the Circular Economy CPD course. The webinar will be presented by Charlie Law of Sustainable Construction Solutions, who has over 30 years’ experience in the construction sector with extensive industry knowledge having worked for BAM, Kier and Lendlease. To attend the free webinar, RSVP to hilary.khawam@pefc.co.uk.

How to design and engineer mass timber and hybrid multi-storey structures course – April 27 | 15:00 GMT: This CPD course by Rothoblaas will analyse the current solutions for multi-rise hybrid and timber structures. Topics that will be covered include; timber connections, fire resistance, durability, and seismic and acoustic performance and design. This course is for timber building professionals who want to create valuable connections in the industry and get updates on the latest trends and technology.

WBPI: Beyond Covid-19 Forum for the wood-based panels industry – Tuesday 11 May | 12.00 BST: Register for the half-day conference by Wood Based Panels International (WBPI) will share how various panels markets are performing and how manufacturers are adjusting to the situation, as well as what products, technology, equipment and trends could prove to be important as we move into new phases of the pandemic and beyond.

For more information, visit ttf.co.uk

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