Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Growth prospects look positive in the UK health and safety products sector

The UK market for health and safety products in non-domestic applications experienced steady growth in 2014 to reach an estimated value of around £730m, having declined in value terms between 2011 and 2013.
This market is mature and, as a consequence, is heavily reliant on activity and output in construction and manufacturing, as well as a strong economy. It is also strongly price driven as a result of rising imports, which has constrained value growth in recent years.
Personal protection equipment accounts for the largest sector of the market in value terms, with an estimated share of over 40% in 2014. The sector covers a wide range of products including head, face, eye, hearing and respiratory products, as well as clothing, gloves, safety footwear and fall protection equipment. Hygiene products and first aid products also account for significant shares of this market, though these sectors are characterised by comparatively low value refill items, intense price competition and a strong presence of unbranded products, which have restricted market growth.  
Key factors driving recent growth include new legislation/updates to existing legislation, as well as regular initiatives by the HSE focusing on specific industries or activities – such as the construction sector – and targeting poor standards and unsafe working practices as part of a nationwide drive.
Periodic health scares also drive sales and stockpiling of equipment by the public sector and essential services, although the influence is generally temporary. They also tend to refocus attention on the importance of handwashing and other anti-contamination measures, particularly in hospitals and public places.
The use of reusable products, where possible, has become a permanent feature of the market, driven in part by cost but also by convenience and the need to avoid contamination and the spread of infection. Product development continues to focus on value added features to sustain value growth.
“In the short term, demand will be sustained by the current positive economic trends, with growth in construction, manufacturing and services driving recovery” said Andrew Hartley, Director of AMA Research. “In the medium term, the outlook for construction remains fairly positive, with growth in housebuilding and general construction activity. Changes to legislation are ongoing and the outlook for employment is also positive.”
Distribution is focused around health & safety specialists and general distributors, with a combined share of over 50%, with online sales growing. As a result, price competition will remain intense, particularly in terms of low-value products and disposables, and this will constrain value growth, with the cost of compliance a relatively heavy burden, particularly for SMEs. However, the market is forecast to continue growing in the medium term, with the annual rate of growth peaking in 2016/17 at around 4%.

The ‘Health and Safety Products Market Report – UK 2015-2019 Analysis’ report is published by AMA Research, a leading provider of market research and consultancy services within the construction and home improvement markets. The report is available now and can be ordered online at www.amaresearch.co.uk or by calling 01242 235724.

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