Hope springs eternal


he state of the economy is a bit like the state of our roads during a wet, cold winter. Long, dark, slippery in places and with potholes that threaten to derail everyone (should that be de-road in this analogy?), but definitely going somewhere. At least, as long as whoever is driving manages to steer round the lumps and bumps and avoids the traffic jams. Oh and if we could just manage to keep talking to the EU, that would be helpful. We’re getting there. Sort of. The IHS Markit/CIPS PMI chart is looking good for October. Again, sort of. Although everyone is getting busier, they are doing so more slowly, in fact, at the slowest rate since June when building sites re-opened properly.

It’s the housebuilders that are keeping the building industry bubbling along. Commercial property investment is on the floor – who, in their right mind, is going to commission a new office building in the City when most of their staff are quite happily working at home in their slippers and fluffy socks? Infrastructure, too, is back to where it was in May no doubt partly because Rishi’s exquisitely-cut suit pockets are empty.

As far as housebuilding is concerned, we are on the ‘good’ side of a steep V-shaped recovery; with housebuilders’ order books more full than they’ve been for some years. Socially distant construction work is continuing on building sites as usual during England’s second lockdown.

Luckily for merchants, the RMI sector, too, is proving resilient. Lockdown - The Sequel is no Lockdown1. Tradesmen and women are permitted, willing and able to continue to go into their customers’ homes and work. The only thing that might hold them back is a lack of readily available materials.


Builders Merchants Journal Datateam Business Media London Road Maidstone Kent ME15 8LY Tel: 01622 687031

EDITORIAL Group Managing Editor: Fiona Russell Horne 01622 699101 07721 841382

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Ah, yes. Materials supply. Demand for certain building materials was a real problem earlier on this year and it is still a problem in some areas, potentially pushing up prices, but certainly adding to delivery times.

It’s probably not altogether surprising that the rate of improvement is slowing in October since we are now speeding through Autumn and heading for Winter. Plus, of course, October was the wettest it has been since 1797, when John Adams became only the second man to have been elevated to be President of the recently-formed United States of America.

Which brings me neatly to events across the Pond. I was glued to CNN last week, waiting on tenterhooks to see if the much prayed-for, predicted massive surge in the Democrat vote was going to materialise.

Well, it did and it didn’t. Over 70million people still turned out to vote for President Trump; thankfully, in my opinion, over 76 million also turned out to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. President-Elect Biden is, it appears, no fan of the UK Prime Minister and the UK is going to have to work hard at building some bridges if it wants to secure a trade deal that will make up for any we might miss out on through Brexit. That said, I think we are far better off dealing with an administration that may not be as wedded to the Special Relationship as the UK would like, but which does recognise the benefit of negotiating in a calm and business-like manner. My suspicion is that a Biden/Harris administration is less likely to throw its toys out of the pram in a fit of childish temper. Fingers crossed.

Fiona Russell-Horne Group Managing Editor - BMJ


Hope is a lover’s staff; walk hence with that,

And manage it against despairing thoughts.

William Shakespeare CONTENTS

4 The Month What’s been going on in the industry this month

6 News Extra

A harassment issue can really damage a businesses’ brand

8 Business Helpdesk Is it the end of the road for the internal combustion engine?

10 People

Who’s now working where? 12 Viewpoint

Our guest commentators look at ventilation and roofing issues, sustainability and recruitment.

22 Company Focus How AG is dealing with the changing business landscape

24 Merchant Focus Keyline is meeting the Covid challenge head on

26 Insulation

Looking at how businesses are investing and adapting

32 Heavyside Trends, developments and building back business

36 BMF Industry Voice News from the BMF.

38 Company Focus Fire protection fires up

39 Product News The latest innovations.

42 And Finally News and the crossword.

November 2020 3 ”

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