These are particularly positive results set against downgraded growth forecasts for the wider UK construction sector.
Of some concern on the cost side were forecasts for expected unit costs and 33% of companies on balance expected unit costs to rise over the next quarter with this rising to 87% of companies on balance for the next year. Interestingly, while a 100% net percentage balance of companies considered fuel costs as a key cost factor going forward, only 31% net percentage considered the same for raw materials. Furthermore demand remained the most likely constraint on activity over the next 12 months for 88% of companies with the only other factor being mentioned being imports (6%). A further 6% cited there being no constraints on activity.
There were some encouraging signs of recovery elsewhere in the survey.13% of companies on balance reported they expected to be working at over 90% capacity utilisation in 12 months time and 25% of companies on balance expected headcount to have increased in a years time. Looking ahead over the next 12 months product improvement remained the key investment priority with 67% of companies on balance reporting anticipated increases in capital investment (although this was down from the 80% net balance of companies reporting such increases for the last 12 months). Investment in other areas is predicted to continue to increase with Plant and Equipment (53% net balance of companies) and Customer Research, R & D and e-business (all 47% net balance of companies).
So why does the aluminium fenestration sector continue to hold its sales volume and be positive about future growth in a reducing construction market?
Aluminium fenestration continues to gain ground over other materials in the home improvement sector as home owners see aluminium as a high quality material that has a very long life. It is also used extensively in the replacement market for both windows and doors. Refurbished buildings with new high performance glazing helps home owners, schools, public buildings and businesses save energy.
The CAB Sate of Trade Survey is carried out by the CPA and benchmarks CAB Members feedback against the wider construction industry. The survey forms part of an extensive support package offered by CAB to its membership.
For more information about CAB, its 2013 events programme and its membership, which is open to anyone in the commercial aluminium supply chain or aluminium home improvement sector please contact Julie Harley at the CAB office on01453 82 8851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org