Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma has welcomed plans by Ibstock to invest £50 million in a new factory in Leicestershire.
Speaking at an event attended by leading representatives from the UK’s builders’ merchants industry, Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma will emphasise the vital role builders’ merchants play in getting more homes built in this country.
He will welcome the success of the Builders Merchants’ Federation as a major representative of the sector for 109 years and congratulate the resilient performance of builders’ merchants over 2017, supporting local growth, development and housebuilding across the country.
According to the latest figures released by the BMF through its Builders Merchants Building Index, sales in Q2 2017 were 5.3% higher compared to the same period last year (when adjusted for there being two less days trading in the period). The data also states that builders’ merchants year-to-date sales are 3.8% higher compared to the same time last year.
The Housing and Planning Minister, speaking at the BMF Members Day in Leicestershire, highlighted the need for the Government and sector to work together to improve fairness across the housing market, bridge the skills gap and encourage the development of well-designed and good quality homes.
Alok Sharma said: “Delivering more homes is a key priority for this Government. Builders’ merchants have an absolutely vital role to play in this, supplying the essential materials we need to get our country building faster.
“Ibstock’s major investment at their Leicestershire site is fantastic news for the building materials industry, demonstrating continuing confidence in this sector and growing consumer demand.
“I congratulate the resilient performance of UK builders’ merchants over this year, and I look forward to working with the sector to put into action the far-reaching reforms of the Housing White Paper. By working together, we will ensure we have the right building blocks in place to meet local housing needs and promote growth across all areas of the country.”
Speaking at the event John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF explained that builders’ merchants order books are being sustained by private housing and RMI work. However, he also said that as Britain prepares the leave the EU, the industry is bracing to face upcoming challenges posed by increasing prices due to the falling value of sterling, and the potential of shortages in certain key products.
John commented: “As a country we need to build many more homes, but these cannot be built without the materials and products that BMF members make, stock and deliver on a daily basis to where they are needed. There are also thousands of households wanting to repair, extend or adapt their home, and again they rely on builders’ merchants to provide the materials to do this.
“Despite our members’ robust performance so far this year, there are still some challenges facing our sector such as the supply of materials and the potential for the price of materials to increase due to higher commodity prices and fluctuations in exchange rates. We also want to see the Government press ahead with its proposals contained in the Housing White Paper, as this will bring a welcome boost to housebuilders.”
Mr Newcomb also pointed to Ibstock’s £50m investment as a sign that the UK building materials industry is rising to the challenges posed by Brexit and the Government’s housebuilding plans.
Wayne Sheppard, Chief Executive Officer of Ibstock, said of its £50m investment: “We’re incredibly proud to be making such a significant investment in our Leicestershire site. Brick is the number one construction material of choice, and we are increasing our production capacity in order to meet growing demand from our customers that is being driven by growth in housebuilding.
“We welcome the Housing Minister’s positive comments about Ibstock’s investment, and we are pleased to see the Government recognise the important role that the building materials supply chain plays in providing essential materials to support housing growth and growing the economy across the country”.