Ashley Chivers, Sales Director, Roofing Specification – IKO PLC
2017 has proved to be a mixed year. IKO launched some exciting new products (including an extension to the IKO easyseal system), and we were shortlisted for a number of Awards in recognition of our work on high-profile projects such as Broadway Plaza. Construction of the new IKO enertherm PIR insulation plant at Alconbury Weald is going well and on target to open 2018.
However, in the overall market, concerns over Brexit, EU currency inflation and the skills shortage continue to affect construction output, with small declines in Q2 and Q3. The roofing market has just about held its own, in terms of value rather than volume.
We may feel the effects more in 2018 due to ongoing, underlying problems. These include raw material price increases and shortages of supply in PIR insulation, which have a knock-on effect for roofing specification. RMI has its own issues, as consumer confidence seems to be slowing, with car and retail sales down.
These are all challenges but the industry is driving forward and addressing the issues where possible. The NFRC debate on the skills shortage at the RCI show, for example, highlighted what individual companies can do to help recruit and retain staff. And the new Safe2Torch guidelines should significantly reduce the risk of fire when using gas torches to dry out roofs or to install torch-on membranes. This initiative has taken on more importance since the tragic Grenfell fire. There is likely to be much more emphasis in 2018 on products meeting regulations and being specified and installed correctly – and that can only be a good thing for the industry.