According to the latest Joinery State of Trade Survey released by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), joinery sales in the UK have risen for the 10th successive quarter but increasing labour and material costs are taking their toll.
The survey conducted among BWF members revealed healthy sales performances in the third quarter of the year, despite Brexit concerns.
Manufacturers were also confident that sales would improve in the next quarter, with 50% predicting an increase for Q4 2016 and 45% predicting an increase over the next year.
Although 59% of respondents said they had order books of future work between one and three months, 28% of companies reported an order book extending beyond three months, a slight decrease (3%) on the previous survey.
More than half of joinery businesses had increased their investment in product improvement, and 41% reported increasing their labour force in the last year, with 36% anticipating creating more new jobs next year.
However, more than two thirds had encountered higher labour costs so far, and 86% expected increases in the coming year.
Wage and salary increases and raw material inflation were reported as big issues. Matt Mahony, BWF policy and communications executive, said BWF member sales performances remained strong but the joinery sector was cautious about the long-term outlook.
Through its leadership role within the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI), the BWF is calling on the government to “steady the ship” through its forthcoming Industrial Strategy and Housing White Paper.
Iain McIlwee, BWF chief executive, said it was “critical” that the forthcoming Industrial Strategy helped set a vision that included the wider manufacturing sector.
“Too often talk of manufacturing focuses on automotive and aerospace, with vital sectors such as construction products, twice the size of automotive in the UK, slipping below the radar.
“We have fed views into the recent Industrial Strategy consultation and hope this vital work will be fast-tracked and gain full and focused cross-departmental support within government.”
Source: Timber Trade Journal