The latest ONS figures for brick production in the UK reveal that August 2018 saw 21% more bricks being produced in the UK compared with August 2017.
Compare the figure to August 2016 (a 39% 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% 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 2% up on the previous year, with the rolling 3-month figure on housing starts to August 2018 being up 6.7%.
“There has been considerable comment on brick supply issues over the last two years,” observed the Brick Development Association’s Tom Farmer. “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.