This Supplier Is Tackling Construction Materials Shortages By Boosting UK Manufacturing
The UK’s construction sector is facing many challenges. Global politics, Brexit and the pandemic have hugely impacted supply, while a stark spotlight has been cast on the sector’s contribution to global warming.
In response, building products manufacturer Etex is spending £140M constructing a new UK plasterboard factory for its Siniat brand near Bristol — one of the largest plant investments in the firm’s history. In March, spades hit the ground and the plant is due to open in 2023. When it does, it will have a positive impact across the sector, Etex Market Manager Melanie Davies said.
“A new UK factory will help to meet many of the challenges facing the UK manufacturing sector," she said. "The need to lower carbon emissions and focus on recycling and circular economies, the reliability of supply, the need for more materials to be created within the UK market. This is a solid step for UK construction at a time we really need it.”
After a pause in construction when the pandemic first arrived, construction across the UK is extremely active. In February, construction was at its highest level in eight months and the number of people employed in construction grew for the 13th consecutive month.
As a result, many construction products are in high demand and short supply. Large suppliers are based outside the UK and supply chains have been severely disrupted by Brexit among other factors.
“There is massive demand for all products,” Davies said. “When we speak to customers, they’re telling us that supply is one of their biggest challenges.”
To ensure the UK can maintain strong construction levels, particularly in the build-to-rent sector, which is growing rapidly, Davies said producing materials in the UK is essential. The new Bristol facility will allow Etex to double Bristol-based plasterboard production capacity.
“The UK is facing a chronic housing shortage and an increasing number of older homes require renovation,” she said. “This is boosting the demand for both our plasterboard and off-site solutions. The new facility will enable Etex to meet the demand for high-quality building materials and allow it to establish and strengthen long-term relationships with customers who need suppliers they can rely on.”
Sustainability And Social Value
Etex is aiming to boost the sustainability credentials of the new plant by investing in a high level of sustainable technology. For example, the new plant will have a rainwater harvesting system, solar PV, electric car charging points and eventually a fully electric forklift fleet. The company has further ambitions to improve the sustainability of its products further.
“We’re already ahead of the curve with the use of recycled content in plasterboard — we’re at about 25% while the industry standard is 9.25%,” Davies said. “The extra space will support us in meeting one of our core circular economy objectives of achieving 30% post-consumer gypsum in plasterboard by 2025.”
Davies highlighted that the new facility will also contribute to the local economy. Etex expects that more than 50 new jobs will be created at the site once it opens. The company is going to use the facility to encourage more young people to enter the manufacturing sector through its Operator Apprenticeship scheme.
The UK government has high hopes of boosting the country's manufacturing levels. And as external pressures ease, Etex is confident that the upward trend in demand for its products will continue, Davies said.
“Being able to produce and supply products in significantly larger quantities will be crucial, not only to the growth of our business,” she said. “It will support the growth challenges of the whole construction industry.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Etex and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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