Leaders in the construction sector are joining forces to ensure confidence in the multi-billion-pound building products supply chain, to meet increasing demand in the re-opening period.
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) to monitor the manufacturing and distribution of their respective members, in order to meet the needs of housebuilders, contractors and SME builders.
They are heading up the Product Availability Group, set-up by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which is co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The BMF is gaining information from across its membership – comprising of 710 members with combined sales of £32 billion – to identify items likely to be in short supply and take steps to address them.
According to the BMF, early shortfalls in plaster and plasterboard supply were being flagged-up under the monitoring system, but steps are being taken to resolve that shortfall.
John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, said: “Currently we are seeing no major issues, apart from plaster and plasterboard, but manufacturing is now scheduled to increase to address this problem.
“As a group, we are meeting every two weeks to keep a watching brief on the situation across the entire construction industry supply chain.
“We want to deal with potential issues in a proactive way, to ensure demand is met across the construction sector.
“Nothing like this has happened before, and the work we are doing is unprecedented.
“We can only refer to what happened in the 2008 recession for insight, but realistically that cannot provide any meaningful model for the situation we are in now.
“Fortunately, we can refer to data-driven intelligence from the information we receive, and the collaboration forged within the Construction Leadership Council means that together we can work to address the challenges ahead.”
Peter Caplehorn, CPA Chief Executive, said: “The CPA has been closely monitoring the operational status of its members, who are looking for sustainable demand for their products before starting to phase in more factory production, whilst at the same time ensuring the health and well-being of their workforce.
“With the BMF, we are discussing with Government and the wider industry the need to encourage builders and merchants to safely re-open more sites and branches, in addition to continuing support for ‘essential’ activity such as key NHS and infrastructure projects, repair and maintenance.”
The BMF’s five largest merchant members, along with five of the CPA’s largest manufacturing members, are part of the Product Availability Group.