Our members are prepared to support construction

Our members are prepared to support construction

BLOG · By TTF CEO DAVID HOPKINS · 30 APRIL 2020

Despite reports of building sites closing because of difficulties to source materials, the latest TTF survey of members show the timber industry is well stocked to support construction.

Covid-19 Survey Results – 3

0%

Mean estimated fall in sales in April 2020 as compared to April 2019

0%

Respondents who can implement safe Site Operating Procedures either partly or fully

0%

Respondents who say their stock holding level is either normal or above normal

Survey notes: This survey is only a snapshot designed to give a indication for how the industry is responding and should not be interpreted as representing all members. The total number of respondents to this survey was 54, representing a range of timber merchants differing in both size and market. Answers were collected between 17 April and 24 April 2020.

As the weeks go on, there remains a lack of clarity about when or how exactly quarantine measures from COVID-19 will come to an end. The timber trade has been affected as construction firms furlough employees and close sites, and has taken similar steps as a supply chain. However, as this Timber Trade Federation survey shows, our members are well prepared to reopen and support the recovery.

The current crisis has been unprecedented, and many factors which influence the market are beyond the control of firms.

Construction sites have shut across the country, with demand for wood and wood products following suit. With thousands of construction workers furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and unclear advice around whether construction sites should now reopen, it has been largely left to individual firms to decide when it is appropriate to reopen.

While there is rightly a health first focus, it is important that the economy, and the construction industry, finds ways to safely reopen. Fortunately, there has been a collective effort across the industry to pave a way out of the crisis and find new ways of operating.

Key going forward is the Site Operating Procedures as provided by the Construction Leadership Council and Public Health England, which are being adopted cross industry, with measures such as social distancing widely accepted.

Our members have responded positively, and are confident they can implement these measures to keep their employees, customers, and the public safe during this ongoing health crisis.

However, there remain many challenges. While timber supplies are mostly at normal or above stock-holding levels for the time of year, other problems such as transport and unfair payments are rising up the agenda.

When the construction industry does return, as it is looking to do in the coming weeks – with large firms such as Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey announcing they will reopen sites from late April – it needs to be in concert with the rest of the supply chain.

The timber supply chain must be prepared, and we encourage all our members to continue to keep in close contact with their customers, who will be seeking assurance that when they reopen they will be able to source supplies.

Growth in demand is the most important factor which will influence when our members reopen, followed by advice from the Government. Conversations via the Confederation of Business Industries have made it appear unlikely that the Government will provide direct advice to the construction industry.

The phrase currently being used is ‘freedom in a framework’. It will be up to the construction industry and all of those in the supply chain to demonstrate they can reopen safely. Trust which has been lost between businesses as a result of unfair payments must be restored, just as it needs to be in the wider economy.

This report and member survey provides a snapshot of where the industry is at the moment. It should reassure others that our members are prepared and well stocked to support the reopening of the economy. We wish everyone the best during this difficult period, and will continue to do all we can to support our members and the wider industry.