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November/December 2019
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November/December EHN issue

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Executive Hire News › Archives › November/December 2019 › Forum : Looking forward

Forum : Looking forward

As always, the end of British Summer Time when the clocks went back at the end of October heralded darker conditions on work sites for construction professionals and other tradesmen undertaking outdoor tasks. However, in some quarters the mood was exacerbated by the announcement of yet another Brexit extension deadline, followed shortly afterwards by the decision to hold a General Election on 12 December. 

Many believe that the ongoing political uncertainty is now having an impact, with some decisions, particularly relating to major projects, being put on hold until a clearer picture emerges.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply’s (CIPS) monthly assessment of UK construction activity for October reported lower volumes of work across three broad categories, namely civil engineering, business and house building. Indeed, the CIPS analysis said there had been the greatest drop in residential work for three years. It added: “Construction companies noted that clients continued to defer decision-making on new projects in response to political uncertainty and concerns about the economic outlook.”

“NOTHING SHORT OF PHENOMENAL”

As 2019 nears its end, this issue of EHN gives the opportunity for a brief assessment of our industry’s mood. Our review of the popular Showman’s Show (beginning on page 13), for the event industry, comprises a series of ‘snapshots’ with the views of several hirers and suppliers who we met there. Not surprisingly, a number of responses agree that the prevailing political uncertainty has caused fluctuations in the trading cycle - one, from Neil Fenwick, MD of Illumin8 Lights, rightly points out that as we began 2019, many prospective customers had put plans on hold in advance of the original 29 March Brexit date. However, he goes on to describe the recent events season as having been “nothing short of phenomenal”, adding that the company is opening its second depot in April, in the West Midlands.

Similarly, Morris Site Machinery’s MD, Allan Binstead, talks of the manufacturer’s significant investment in new product development, as well as its move to considerably larger, purpose-built premises in Wolverhampton next year. And John F Hunt Power’s MD Sales, David Hunt’s upbeat assessment is that “our customer base is growing, demand is increasing and our expansion reflects that. We’re prepared to continually invest in new equipment.”

NEW MARKETS

Elsewhere in this issue, you will find evidence of hirers successfully targeting new markets. In our article on Orange Plant (page 11) which specialises in hiring forestry and grounds maintenance machinery, we discover that the company is winning business from customers in the event industry following the addition of compact loaders into its fleet. Similarly, on page 34, we describe how a temporary power equipment specialist, Energy Generator Hire, is now also offering all-terrain vehicles to meet demand from customers undertaking projects at sites where people and materials need to be transported across demanding terrain.

Our ‘Stormforce’ Market Report considers equipment for emergency situations such as during and after flooding events. As the introductory article on page 20 states, demand for products like pumps and dryers to deal with such occurrences can only grow, given the impact of global heating and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events. On 1 October, for example, the Environment Agency issued no fewer than 70 flood warnings and 181 alerts across England, and some areas saw as much as two weeks’ worth of rain in just two hours.

While there may be concerns about the level of new construction activity, our snapshots of the hire market show that there are still plenty of opportunities. The CIPS survey stated, “Given that the next political hurdle is the General Election, all eyes will be on the new administration and clear direction.” Hopefully there will indeed be more clarity and stability in the New Year. If so, it will bring even greater prospects and a positive 2020.

     
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