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Builders and Plumbers Merchants Market Report - UK 2015-2019 Analysis

  • December 2015
  • 109 pages
  • AMA Research
Report ID: 3516825


Table of Contents

AMA Research have published the 14th edition of the 'Builders and Plumbers Merchants Market Report – UK 2015-2019 Analysis'. The report provides an informed and up-to-date review of this influential market and, with over 100 pages, is a comprehensive review of recent market trends and forecasts over the next few years.Key issues covered:

Detailed assessment of the market - analysis of market size, structure - lightside/heavyside, pricing trends and recent developments in the market.
Review of the merchants - nationals, regionals, buying groups, merchants characteristics, SWOT analysis, market shares.
Analysis by product group - sector size, product mix, trends and merchants market share - plumbing & drainage, heating & ventilation, bricks, blocks, clay & concrete products, cement & plaster materials, timber & timber products, kitchen furniture & appliances, roofing & insulation, decorating materials and ironmongery & miscellaneous.
Future prospects - market forecasts to 2019, factors influencing future growth.

Key areas of insight include:

Market performance to 2015 in the light of an improving building and construction industry, with forecasts through to 2019.
Positive and negative factors affecting the market – increasing confidence for sustained UK economy recovery; residential & non-domestic construction levels, public and private sector performance likely to differ substantially.
Dominance of the national merchants – Travis Perkins, Saint Gobain, Grafton, Wolseley and Screwfix; market mix by merchants type (nationals, regionals & locals).
Product group analysis – market sizes, influences, trends and merchant shares.
Identification of key customer groups in merchant market.
Changing customer buying behaviour - demand for online purchasing, click & collect etc.
Some of the companies included:
Alsford Timber, Bradfords Building Supplies, C&W Berry, Crossling, David Cover & Son, EH Smith, Elliott Brothers, Grafton Group, Grant & Stone, Haldane Fisher, HPS (Heating Plumbing Supplies), Huws Gray, James Burrell, James Hargreaves, Joseph Parr (Group) Ltd, JT Atkinsons & Sons, JT Dove, Kent Blaxill & Co, Lawsons, LBS Builders Merchants, MKM Building Supplies, MP Moran & Sons, Nicholls & Clarke Group, Parker Building Supplies, Rawle Gammon & Baker, Ridgeons Ltd, Robert Price, Saint-Gobain Building Products Distribution, Sydenhams, Travis Perkins, Wolseley UK.

Key areas covered in the report include:

National merchants – turnover, company structure, recent performance, market share.
Regional merchants – key players, turnover, main product areas and branch numbers.
Buying groups – identification of the main groups and sector consolidation.
Merchants characteristics – products ranges, profitability, debtors, turnover per employee.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the merchant sector.


The merchants market – key characteristics of the market, analysis by value from 2009-2015, trends and forecasts to 2019.
Dominance of the national merchants - market mix by merchants type (nationals, regionals & locals).
Market trends and major factors influencing market development – growth of online purchasing, ‘click & collect’ etc.
Identification of merchants’ main customer groups.
Product pricing trends in the industry.
Review of market structure – lightside and heavyside product distribution.
Merchants share of overall construction output.
Merchants share by each product group.


Product group review: plumbing & drainage, heating & ventilation, bricks, blocks, clay & concrete products, cement & plaster materials, timber & timber products, kitchen furniture & appliances, roofing & insulation, decorating materials and ironmongery & miscellaneous.
Product mix for builders and plumbers’ merchants.
Analysis by product group - market size 2009-2015 and product mix within each sector. Review of products including recent major trends and key factors affecting the sub-sector.


Outlook for the builders and plumbers market – short term prospects and medium term prospects through to 2019.
Key influences on the market going forward - business and consumer confidence, construction output, public and private sector influences.Following significant decline in 2008-09, the builders and plumbers merchant market market had remained relatively flat to 2012 but has been boosted since 2013 by recovery in the housebuilding sector in particular, reaching growth of 6% in 2013 and 9% in 2014. Indications are that growth was slightly lower in 2015 at 4%, though the overall trend remains positive. Other key sectors that have experienced growth and stimulated demand for merchants’ products include offices, infrastructure, industrial and education. In 2014 it is estimated that merchant sales accounted for around 9% of total construction output, indicating that the merchants remain an important distribution channel in the overall construction market. The merchants offer an extensive range of products, with the traditional building products still dominating the product mix.

The market is dominated by a leading group of 5 organisations who account for an estimated share of over 75% of the market. Since the economic and construction downturn the merchant market has undergone some significant structural changes, with the market consolidating as some of the larger companies acquired relatively smaller, but established merchants. Difficult trading conditions experienced in recent years have led to increased competition from other channels, particularly the DIY multiples. The impact of the construction downturn was initially more significant for the merchants, with DIY benefiting from consumers switching major home improvement projects in favour of lighter DIY tasks, however, since 2013 the merchants have performed better than the DIY multiples, benefiting from the significant growth seen in housebuilding and some non-domestic new work in particular and also the growth in house prices driving the residential refurbishment sector.

The market is price sensitive, being driven by competition, energy & fuel costs, volatile prices of raw materials and product availability. Whilst price increases boost market size, they contribute to some margin erosion in merchant business, principally in respect of commodity and ‘known value’ items. The upturn in construction activity since 2013 has also led to supply chain issues and shortages for some products such as bricks & blocks, timber and roof tiles. However some manufacturers have re-opened moth-balled manufacturing facilities to address the issue. In addition to these product shortages, there are also some prospective on-site skills shortages.

Future prospects for the merchant market remain relatively optimistic with increased confidence in the continued recovery of the UK economy and that it will be sustained. Construction activity levels are increasing, although the rate of growth is thought to have slowed slightly in 2015 and the rate of recovery remains vulnerable. However, forecasts are broadly positive, with growth rates of between 3-6% per annum forecast until 2019. Drivers in the residential sector include the traditional UK under-investment in its housing stock in terms of new build requirements, also the age of the current dwellings stimulates expenditure of RMI activity; the current confidence in the new housebuilding sector in terms of starts, forward reservations, completions and average prices. Returning confidence and investment levels in the private commercial sector are likely to be one of the key drivers for growth in non-residential output into the medium-term, with good growth forecast in the office sector in particular. The market will also be influenced by the cost of fuel and energy as well as the volatility of the exchange rate of Sterling, the rising cost of raw materials and product shortages as well as potential skills shortages.

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