The effect of COVID-19 on the roofing market has been significant, with an estimated 20% decline in market value in 2020, but there is hope for the future.
Since 2015, demand for roof coverings has been supported by strong growth in housebuilding and domestic RMI, along with increased output in a number of commercial and industrial new build and refurbishment markets.
Growth in the overall market for roof covering reached c. £1.1 billion in 2019. Key areas for this growth came from housing, office, schools and leisure. However, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the industry.
In the public sector, capital budgets remain tight, but spending on construction in sectors such as health and education had been increasing before the pandemic, and which are forecast to pick up again post-COVID, thus offering opportunities to suppliers and contractors, particularly in the flat roofing sector.
The chronic undersupply of new homes that we have seen in recent years will ensure that the demand for new housing will continue to be high. This will inevitably drive up demand for both tiles and flat roof membranes. However, the chronic shortage of roofers, and other ‘wet’ trades, could get worse following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The ongoing shortage of skilled roofers in the industry has resulted in product developments that enable easier installation while requiring less skilled labour. The extent of the roofing skills shortage suggests that easier to install products, such as interlocking concrete roof tiles, will continue to grow in popularity.
Accelerating growth in online shopping continues to drive up demand for online distribution centres. These are typically very large structures with expansive roof areas, typically finished with single ply membranes or profiled metal sheets. Another growth application is that of waste treatment and recycling, and energy recovery facilities. There are a large number of these in the 2021 development pipeline.
The start of 2021 still sees the UK in the holds of the Covid-19 pandemic with Lockdown 3 currently upon us. With the construction sector as a whole remaining open and many of the previous implementations still in place means that many distributors and retailers are still open, we are forecasting a slight recovery in demand for roofing products, with moderate annual increases of 4-6% thereafter. Reflecting some improvement in confidence and the economy, with market value forecast to be return to c.£1 billion by 2024.