Builders merchants sales dip

The latest figures generated by Gfk’s Builders Merchants Panel shows total sales in Q4 2014 decreased on the previous quarter due to the change in seasonal trading.
The data released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) shows total sales in Q4 dropped by 13.5% on the previous quarter.

However, multiple trading days were lost in December due to public holidays (17 trading days v 20 in November). Eliminating the trading day variable, by looking at average daily sales, gives a sales trend of -5.2% for Q3 on Q4.

Q4 saw total sales of £1.17bn over 60 trading days (£19.8m per trading day), while Q3 reported total sales of £1.34bn over 65 trading days (£20.7m per trading day).

While sales values in October were marginally above those in September (£460m v £459m), there were month on month declines in both November (£406m, -13.1%) and December (£309m, -31.4%);

BMF’s managing director, John Newcomb said: “The effect of seasonal trading is evident in these figures, and is to be expected. It is particularly interesting to note the shift in sales from external sectors, heavy building materials and landscaping, to internal sectors from Q3 to Q4.

“Sales of heavy building materials dropped back in Q4. With 46.3% of the total sales within the heavy building materials category this quarter, the weakening demand towards the year end had a major impact on total market performance.”

Sales of heavy building materials in Q4 declined by 14.1% on Q3, while sales of landscaping products declined by 32.40%. However, plumbing, heating & electrical sales rose by 8.6% reflecting a move to interior trades as winter sets in.

Plumbing, heating & electrical sales accounted for 5.6% of the total market share in Q4, up from 4.5% in Q3.

Heavy building materials fell back to 46.3% in Q4 from 47.2% in Q3. Landscaping fell back to 6.5% in Q4 from 8.4% in Q3. Sales of timber and joinery products declined by 11.6% but their share of total sales remained constant accounting for 21.2% in Q4 and 21% in Q3.

GfK’s data sample represents 80% of the country’s multiple generalist builders merchants, defined as those selling a mix of heavy-side and light-side products through more than three branches or with an annual turnover of more than £3m.

The panel includes national, multi-regional and regional merchants such as Buildbase, Jewson, Travis Perkins, EH Smith, Gibbs & Dandy, MKM, Bradfords, Covers and Ridgeons.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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