While overall industry markets were broadly positive during 2011, with strong growth in the fourth quarter compared with the same period of 2010, these figures mask weak markets outside London and the south east of England and a favourable weather effect in December.
That’s according to the Mineral Products Association’s latest survey, which found that aggregates sales volumes were flat during 2011, cement and ready-mixed concrete sales increased by 7% and asphalt sales increased by 4%. 2011 volumes remain 30% below pre-recession levels.
December 2001’s mild weather, compared with the end of 2010 accounted for 2% to 3% of the annual volume changes recorded in 2011.
During 2011 there was a pronounced regional variation with ready mixed concrete, cement and aggregates sales very positive in the South East of England.
Ready mixed concrete sales increased by 44% in Greater London and by 24% in the South East due to progress on a number of major Commercial and Infrastructure projects (for example Crossrail) and a stronger housing market.
Construction markets in other parts of Great Britain were significantly more depressed and if the South East England and December weather impacts are discounted, the underlying ready-mixed concrete market for the rest of Great Britain was 3% down.
Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA, said: “Although the 2011 volumes were better than anticipated it is clear that underlying construction and minerals products markets remain weak in most of the UK. The outlook for 2012 could be a perfect storm for our industries – public sector markets in decline and private sector markets remaining subdued and uncertain.
“The public investment increases announced in the Autumn Statement were very modest and will have little impact in the short term, there is little indication that the planned new models for private finance will appear anytime soon and Government seems more focussed on projects which may come to fruition in several years time than on the immediate future.”