Who will win and who will lose?

What's in store for UK merchants?

Published:  27 January, 2010

UK: 2009 was a difficult year for the UK builders' merchants, but conditions in 2010 present a brighter picture. According to research by industry analysts Plimsoll, the market is slowly emerging from the malaise of the last two years.

David Pattison, senior analyst and author of the report explained: "The recession tore through the market in 2008 and most 2009 and accelerated the rate of change in the market.

"Aggressive 'growth at any cost' operators have been forced to abandon their reckless strategies and many have been caught out and are in real trouble. However, some amazing companies have come through the recession largely unaffected and look set to make 2010 their year."

Mr Pattison predicted "more job losses and consolidations. As the market improves there are a lot of companies, large and small, that survived by the skin of their teeth and they have to rebuild their profit margins and efficiencies.

"Our latest analysis projects that a further 7000 jobs will have to be shed if companies are to get back to profit and remain competitive in 2010. Whether through natural wastage or compulsory layoffs, job losses are necessary.

"With the average sales figure for each employee down to £184 000, staff need to 'buy in' and contribute more to the recovery of their companies. Those who stil have a job can expect to work much harder in 2010.

"Around £4bn worth of profit has been wiped from the market in the last year and employers have no choice but to cut their cloth accordingly and get more from their resources."

As for mergers and acquisitions Mr Pattison reported: "We named 118 companies in that are ripe for takeover or merger with a larger parent. It's a buyers market in 2010, with many companies still recovering from the recession.

"Our report has picked some great examples of companies that are currently undervalued because of the recession that would be very attractive to prospective owners.

"For many struggling companies, a buyout may be the quickest route to get the company back on an even keel - even if it means relinquishing their independence.

"This will further increase job losses as new owners would quickly look for efficiency gains and to synergise their new acquisition with existing operations."

The Plimsoll Industry Analysis - Builders' Merchants gives a performance rating on the top 1000 companies in the market. Each company has been rated as 'strong', 'good', 'mediocre', 'caution' or 'danger', according to their latest performance. A graphic and written analysis will tell you which companies are in trouble and who is getting it right.

Readers of Builders' Merchants News are entitled to a £50 discount on the new special edition of the report. Call 01642 626400 for further details and quote reference PR/CS10.

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