Brick industry goes for growth

The latest ONS figures for brick production in the UK reveal a remarkable story of manufacturing investment. August 2018 saw 21 per cent more bricks being produced in the UK compared with August 2017. Compare the figure to August 2016 (a 39 per cent rise) and a clear picture emerges of consistent growth in output resulting from increased capacity across the sector.

This is not just about the summer months, of course: more important for long-term planning are the annual figures. For the rolling 12-month period ending August 2018 there is a 9.4 per cent increase over the previous 12-month period.

To put this in context, NHBC housebuilding figures show that the number of plots under construction in August 2018 is two per cent up on the previous year, with the rolling three-month figure on housing starts to August 2018 being up 6.7 per cent.

Brick Development Association’s Tom Farmer observed:

“There has been considerable comment on brick supply issues over the last two years. The industry has proved remarkably responsive to increased demand, with all the major players investing to increase production capacity. The supply chain is also importing stock from the EU in order to bolster supply in the short term.

“It is heartening to see UK manufacturing making long-term investments in plant, people and technology. Brave decisions were made when the housebuilding sector started to show signs of recovery and the increasing production numbers show the results of those decisions.”

In addition to increasing production volume, the BDA also points to the Mace Business School estimate of lead times for brickwork which, at 11 weeks, is well below the 28-60 week lead times quoted for other cladding materials.