Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas from AMA Research

The team at AMA Research would like to thank all our clients for their custom in the past year. We have once again been busy with over 60 reports published to support our library of over 150 titles.

In addition, we have also undertaken a large number of varied client specific projects, ranging from detailed reviews of specific building products and materials to in-depth assessments of distribution markets, as well as Brexit impact reviews. In 2017, we plan to continue to improve our product and service offering and widen our range of reports, and early next year we also hope to launch a brand new website which comes with full e-commerce functionality.

Click here to read our review of the year and our predictions for 2017 for the building and construction industry. It has certainly been an interesting year with the EU referendum results and subsequent effect on the economy as a whole. At the time of writing, however, it seems market conditions are continuing to improve. We hope that this will benefit all our customers and wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Please note that we are closed for business from 5pm on the 22nd December 2016 and will re- open on 3rd January 2017. We will process all orders and respond to any enquiries as soon as we are back from the Christmas break.

Friday, December 16, 2016

UK Construction market review 2016 and what lies ahead

As 2016 draws to a close it's worth reflecting on the changes the construction industry has seen over the last 12 months.
This time last year, confidence levels in the UK economy in general - and in construction activity in particular - were relatively buoyant. AMA's Forecast Bulletin in January 2016 indicated projected growth rates of 2.3% in GDP, with overall construction output forecast to grow by 5-6%. The EU Referendum was a distant landmark and most independent forecasts were for a vote to 'Remain', and that construction would make a positive contribution to prospects for the economy in 2016.
Housebuilding was regarded as one of the strongest sectors for growth, building on rising confidence levels, growth in real incomes and a range of Government support initiatives aimed at helping first -time buyers into the market. In the non-residential sector, infrastructure and office construction were forecast to be the most buoyant sectors for 2016 - each forecast to grow by around 7%.
However, the surprise result of the Referendum had an immediate impact on construction, with leading housebuilders' share prices falling dramatically the following day and the sector generally experiencing a loss of confidence. Fortunately, this didn't last too long and the last few months have seen something of a recovery across most sectors. Housebuilding volumes haven't fallen off a cliff and sales levels have recovered strongly with prospects for 2017 looking more buoyant than they were just a few short months ago. The political focus on increasing the number of new homes is continually rising, with the shortage of affordable housing now recognised as one of the major issues and set to drive a range of initiatives to increase output over the medium term.

As the chart above shows, our latest forecasts for 2016 indicate a modest increase in output, though more recent surveys have suggested that this may prove optimistic with a decline in some sectors impacting on overall output levels.
So, what are the prospects for 2017?
In a wider context – and in the light of the Brexit vote - forecasts for the economy in 2017 have been cut to around 1% growth in GDP. But, it’s worth emphasising that forecasts for 2016 were also initially cut in response to the Referendum and have proved too pessimistic, resulting in recent upward revisions to around 2.1%. Our current forecasts are for around 2% growth in overall construction output with the industry set to pass £150 billion in total value.
This forecast is built on a combination of modest growth in the housing market, while the non-residential sector is expected to experience mixed fortunes.
As the chart below shows, housing and infrastructure represent 2 major sectors of the construction industry, accounting for 41% and 19% respectively in the first 6 months of 2016. 
As indicated above, housebuilding has proved more buoyant than anticipated, while infrastructure spending has also risen up the political agenda. Lack of investment in infrastructure is regarded as a barrier to growth in the economy and, while uncertainty still surrounds major projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point and a new airport runway in the South East, the overall level of investment in energy and transport infrastructure is set to rise and should contribute to steady rates of growth in construction output.
As for the medium term, the underlying performance of the economy - together with consumer and business confidence levels – will be the key drivers of construction activity. Undoubtedly, the Brexit vote and negotiations will continue to cast a shadow over the next 2-3 years at least, but as the last 6 months have already proved the construction sector has proved more resilient than anticipated and the sector remains a good target for Government support and initiatives to help underpin the UK economy.
Best Wishes for 2017 from all at AMA Research! 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Steady growth overall in the UK upholstered furniture and beds sectors

The UK upholstered furniture and beds market has shown good growth in recent years of around 3-4% per annum until 2015, with a further increase of around 3% expected in 2016. According to a new report by AMA Research, reasons for the market increasing steadily in the 2012-15 period, include an improving UK economy, rising consumer confidence and an increase in sales of higher value products.  
In the upholstered furniture sector, sales of single sofas and convertibles represent an important part of the upholstered furniture market, while armchairs sold separately account for smaller share. Modular, corner, U Shaped sofas are gaining share. These flexible designs are suited to open plan living and are adaptable to different spaces. The share accounted for by leather has declined marginally over the last 3-5 years, with the wide range of colours and styles supporting the growth of the fabric sector.
During the last 5 years, there has been a marked trend towards double beds and, in particular, to king sized beds. This growth is largely attributed partly to the high level of price competition within the market, particularly in the bedstead sector. Growth in the mattress sector has been underpinned by increased demand for higher value pocket sprung mattresses, along with the growing popularity of other materials, such as memory foam. Demand for divan sets has fallen steadily due to growth in demand for mattresses, either sold separately as a replacement purchase or together with bedsteads, including wooden, upholstered and metal bedsteads.
The supply structure of the upholstered furniture market has not changed dramatically in recent years, though the major suppliers have increased their overall share of the market. The furniture multiples continue to dominate the distribution of upholstered furniture, with multiple specialists such as DFS, ScS and Sofology accounting for a significant share, along with general furniture multiples, such as IKEA, Harveys and Furniture Village, and department stores/variety chains. Imports of upholstered furniture have increased in the 2012-15 period to reach around 45% of the market by value, with imports from China now accounting for the major share.
The beds sector is more concentrated in terms of suppliers compared with the upholstered furniture market, however, in recent months there has been considerable activity in the mattress sector, with newer entrants specialising in offering a compact range of products, often via the internet and available for early delivery.
While forecasts for the UK economy in 2016 have recently been upgraded slightly by the major forecasting institutions, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the current high levels of indebtedness for many people is likely to impact consumer confidence. The rate of growth until 2020 is expected to be lower than in the last few years. While the upholstered furniture and beds sectors are relatively mature, a growing demand for housing should stimulate market growth. Mattresses are one specific area of the beds market where opportunities for further value growth exist, with relatively short replacement cycles and consumers trading up to higher quality products.
“The popularity of modern and contemporary furniture seems to favour alternative furniture combinations, rather than the traditional 3-piece suites” said Hayley Thornley, Research Manager at AMA Research. “Other trends include flexible and modular furniture options to allow for open plan living areas and awkward spaces. This is also reflected in the range of design options now offered, including corner sofas, u-shaped sofas and chaise sofas.”

The ‘Upholstered Furniture and Beds Market Report – UK 2016-2020 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 or by calling 01242 235724.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Online sales of garden products in the UK have doubled since 2011

Growth in online sales of gardening products have outpaced the overall garden products market by some distance in recent years. Reasons for this has included the continued penetration of broadband internet services and mobile devices, as well as the expanding number of companies which now compete in the online sector. Between 2011 and 2015, Internet sales of garden products more than doubled, with the sector growing by an estimated 24% in 2015 – with growth of a further 20% estimated for 2016.
Segmentation of the internet garden products sector differs from the market as a whole. Garden leisure products accounted for the largest share of ‘internet garden product sales via the Internet at around 30%, followed by horticulture and garden equipment - this compares to the total garden products market where horticulture takes the leading share. Both the internet sector and the overall market have benefited from the fact that more people are keen to use their gardens for entertaining and socialising. This trend has pushed up demand in sectors such as garden furniture, barbecues and decorative garden features in particular.
It is estimated that ‘non-specialist’ garden retailers such as DIY multiples account for the majority share of internet garden sales in 2015-16. However, competition continues to grow within the overall category, as a number of grocery multiples and high street retailers have recently increased their presence in the market. The garden centres sector has been slower than others in adopting online sales platforms, but this is now beginning to change. In addition, there are a range of specialist online retailers in key sectors, accounting for around 40% of the market.
Growth within the overall market for garden products is likely to be fairly restrained in the medium term. However, more impressive growth is forecast for the internet sector, which is less mature and at an earlier stage of development.
“By 2020, it is expected that the internet sector will account for over 18% of the total garden products distribution market and will have grown by more than 55% compared with 2016 levels” said Andrew Hartley, Director of AMA Research. “While impressive, market growth is expected to slow during the years leading up to 2020, as the sector starts to mature.”
Ultimately, internet sales of garden products will depend upon demand within the overall market. Future growth rates are expected to vary between sectors, reflecting factors such as varying levels of maturity, replacement frequencies and consumer tastes and fashions. Between 2018 and 2020, AMA Research expects the overall growth rate to have slowed to 10-12% per annum.
The ‘Internet Garden Market Report – UK 2016-2020 Analysis’ report is published by AMA Research, a leading provider of market research and consultancy services with over 25 years’ experience in the construction and home improvement markets.  The report is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

Positive growth prospects in the medium term for European Builders Merchants market

The total European builders merchants market grew by around 4% in 2015 with further growth of 2% expected in 2016, according to a newly released report by AMA Research. This new report reviews the builders merchants markets in 12 European countries (excluding the UK) and looks at construction and economic indicators, as well as identifying the key merchants groups/organisations operating in each of the 12 countries. Estimated at around €109bn in 2015, growth of around 2% is currently indicated for the European builders merchants market in 2016. However, there are significant differences between the 12 countries in terms of the merchants market structure, as well as distribution of lightside and heavyside building products.
In terms of contribution to GDP, construction output varies considerably between the countries reviewed - ranging from as low as 6-7% to highs of around 16-18% - with a typical overall average of 8-10%. Construction output has been extremely volatile in some countries over the last decade - notably Ireland, Spain and Portugal – and, in overall terms, has not recovered to 2007 levels across the leading 12 EU countries reviewed.
Growth in the overall builders merchants market across the 12 countries is forecast to be slightly lower in 2016-17. Though the market size has increased year on year since 2013, it is still below the peak achieved in 2007-08, and while the above figures at an overall level indicate a degree of stability in recent years, this conceals a relatively high degree of volatility at individual country level.
Germany has provided one of the more stable construction sectors in recent years avoiding the significant swings in activity levels that have typified market performance in many other countries. In addition, Germany also has high specification standards in most products, which has helped underpin the €30 billion building merchants market. France and Italy have performed less well in recent years, but remain significant markets - France underpinned by a strong housebuilding sector, while Italy has a stronger refurbishment market.
In recent years, there has been significant activity among buying groups with expansion and mergers/co-operations within national boundaries, as well as the development of pan-European links and some consolidation amongst the merchants. Three key multi-national groups are significant in the overall European market: Saint-Gobain, whose building materials distribution division claims to be the European leader in building materials distribution; Wolseley the UK based company which claims to be the world’s largest specialist trade distributor of heating and plumbing products and CRH, the Irish building materials group.
“Despite the current difficult climate, the 12 markets under review are also likely to see further rationalisation over the longer term, though inevitably further consolidation in some countries is likely to come up against competition barriers” said Andrew Hartley, Director of AMA Research. “As well as structural changes in distribution, the markets are also likely to see further rationalisation of supply chains, as major international groups expand their building material interests across different products and markets.”
2016 is expected to be a relatively difficult year, with many countries experiencing marginal growth at best. Government spending levels across most EU countries are still under pressure to keep within EU guidelines and, inevitably, public sector construction works are a target for budget cuts and this will continue to feed through into the builders merchants markets in some countries. In addition, new housing output is likely to be impacted as consumer spending and confidence levels fall. Repairs/maintenance works typically also depends on consumer confidence which remains relatively fragile across most major European economies in late-2016. However, into the medium term, prospects for growth are more positive.
The ‘Builders Merchants Market Report - Europe 2016-2020 Analysis’ report is published by AMA Research, a leading provider of market research and consultancy services within the construction and home improvement markets. The full report is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724. In addition, also on offer are reviews of the 12 individual countries and a separate review of the builders’ merchants market is also available by contacting AMA Research directly.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Competitive UK generator hire market continues to grow in 2016

AMA Research have published a new report on the UK Generator Hire market, reviewing market size, product and application trends, forecasts and supply structure in the diesel generator hire sector. Hiring of generators and support services is a substantial market and has experienced particularly good growth since 2012. In 2015, it is estimated that the market grew by around 7% in value terms, with a further 4% growth forecast in 2016.
The hire of generators is well-established in the UK and reflects the need for temporary, emergency or back-up power in a wide range of applications. Given this diversity of applications, the performance of the UK economy has a direct impact on the level of generator hire demand, reflecting trends in both construction and non-construction activity.
Demand tends to be relatively closely aligned to GDP, with short term fluctuations influenced by construction downturns and recovery, while other key factors impacting on demand include emergencies - in particular flooding in recent years - and major events, such as the Olympics, Glastonbury etc. In addition, rising power demand is a key driver in several major sectors, such as events and industrial, with more ‘critical’ applications also requiring more back-up support.
By volume, generators with a rating up to 20 kVA account for around a third of the market, with the 21-350kVA category accounting for a larger share. The latter are typically used in construction and events, as well as small offices, industrial units or hospital departments etc. Construction accounts for the largest ‘end-user’ share followed by the industrial sector, with infrastructure and events also important sectors for generator hire.
Within the overall generator hire market, ancillary products represent a significant value added element to the overall contract value, though requirements for ancillary products/services vary considerably depending on the location, application, additional elements required, generator size etc.
“The market has continued to grow in 2016 but, following the Brexit decision in June, growth rates are more cautious but underlying prospects remain strong” said Andrew Hartley, Director of AMA Research. “However, the underlying trend remains positive and there is substantial optimism in late-2016 within the generator hire sector for steady growth of around 4-5% which is expected to continue going forward.”
Contributing factors to steady growth include a combination of generally rising levels of electricity consumption, concerns over grid capacity and reliability, more infrastructure projects and developments in remote locations, such as wind farms and nuclear energy, while the growing events sector provides good opportunities for temporary power hire.

The ‘Generator Hire Market Report – UK 2016-2020 Analysis’ report is published by AMA Research, a leading provider of market research and consultancy services with over 25 years’ experience within the construction and home improvement markets.  The report is available now and can be ordered online at or by calling 01242 235724.

Domestic Window Coverings - UK 2016-2020 - Key Facts

  • The UK window coverings market is worth over £1.5 billion at retail prices.
  • Curtains and blinds account for over 75% of the market but shutters represent the fastest growing sector and is now a substantial sector.
  • Key suppliers vary between product sectors, with the overall market relatively fragmented.
  • Mail order/internet now accounts for over 30% of the market with department stores and specialists/independents also leading channel at over 20% share.
  • The sector is mature, though shutters are forecast to experience strong growth in the next 2-3 years.

These facts have been extracted from AMA Research's report 'Domestic Window Coverings Market Report - UK 2016-2020 Analysis', available from or by calling 01242 235724