Dr Bill takes a look at what merchants can expect in the new year
Well, I hope you all survived the festive season and managed to recharge your batteries after the challenging year that was 2014.
The obvious question is what will 2015 bring? Many commentators take the view that whilst housing will continue to be robust, other sectors such as commercial building and even some delayed infrastructure projects will start to pick up and contribute to more balanced growth in the construction industry.
Merchants must, as ever, balance their stock to ensure that lead in times are kept to a minimum, but also that they are not eventually left with too much ‘out of date’ stock. The whole concept of a ‘shelf life’ for cement and cement-containing materials (as a result of a desire to minimise dermatitis in the workforce), which at the time it was imposed seemed very strange, has now been with us for just over ten years. During this time the typical shelf life of packed cements has gradually increased, and with today’s high quality plastic packaging it can be nearly 6 months. This has generally made stock control a bit easier, but some more specialised products may still have relatively short shelf lives.
At this time of the year, the weather also plays a crucial role. A mild winter will enable builders to push ahead with work throughout the early part of 2015, but prolonged cold or wet weather will have a correspondingly detrimental effect on work. I’m sure none of us would want to see a repeat of the widespread flooding seen early last year. In a normal year, construction activity peaks in the middle third of the year and most planning processes will make this type of assumption. However, the weather still has the power to disrupt even the most sophisticated planning systems. Irrespective of this, good planning and stock control is always critical.
A happy new year to you all and let’s hope for a prosperous 2015.