The general market slowdown in the second quarter has meant most firms are keeping their lead times on an even keel.
The period up to June 2003 was quiet, with only eight sectors reporting any change to lead times. Many suppliers confirm that capacity is available – however, most are maintaining lead times as reported in March.

As predicted in the previous quarter the lead time for rotary piling ↑ increased by one week to five weeks overall. Companies predict a strong year and although there are indications that reinforcement costs may increase, lead times could extend to six weeks over the coming months. Precast piling contractors can still achieve a four-week lead.

The lead time of concrete works ↓ has fallen again and suppliers are quoting a lead time of seven weeks. The suppliers contacted had lost several tenders recently and needed to secure new projects. This lead time is not expected to reduce further although the market remains very competitive.

Steelwork ↑ lead times are 10 weeks, an increase of one week. Three months ago structural steelwork companies were nervous about the 2003 workload. Now several projects have been secured and finding production slots and teams to resource the projects has meant an increase to the total lead time.

Curtain walling → is unchanged with a lead time of 19 weeks. The determining factor remains glass procurement.

Lead times for atrium roofing → remain at 30 weeks, although changes in the supply chain have caused working drawings to drop by eight weeks and manufacture to increase by nine. Suppliers report that the general decline in the office market has not affected them due to a steady flow of work from other sectors.

Drylining → is reported at a nine-week lead time, which is unchanged since the beginning of 2002. The number of new projects secured is lower than the previous six months, although this is unlikely to reduce lead times in the short term.

An eight week lead time for demountable partitions → is unchanged from the previous quarter. Suppliers report they are busy with new enquiries and projects. The general slowdown in new office projects has not affected this sector, which is maintaining order books with refurbishment projects.

General joinery → lead times continue at 11 weeks. Although enquiries and new projects are fewer than six months ago this lead time is unlikely to reduce further.

An increase of one week means the lead time for specialist joinery ↑ goes up to 16 weeks overall. Companies are busy with current projects and design departments are fully committed for the months ahead. Procurement and manufacturing periods are presently unchanged. For the past four years in this sector, 16 or 17 weeks has been the average lead time.

The raised access floor sector → is quiet although currently the lead time remains at six weeks. With standard materials readily available the lead time could reduce over the summer unless new projects commence.

Suspended ceilings ↑ increased lead times to 16 weeks. This was caused by increased manufacturing periods being quoted by tile suppliers. Companies report healthy, although not excessive order books and no labour supply issues.

Lead times for decorating companies ↓ reduced by one week to four overall. Labour supply is satisfactory, apart from central London where shortages for some contracts remain.

Ductwork ↓ lead times have reduced by two weeks to 12 overall. Design offices have capacity due to a slight drop of workload and new enquiries. All materials are readily available for fabrication.

Sprinkler ↓ companies have also reduced lead times by two weeks to 10 weeks overall. Several contracts have finished and new enquiries are lower than six months ago, creating capacity in design offices and fabrication workshops. One supplier noted that high specification sprinkler heads continue to have a longer lead in than the typical period.

The average lead time for controls → suppliers remain at 14 weeks and levels of new enquiries are higher than in the previous six months.

Going up

↑ Rotary piling
↑ Steelwork
↑ Specialist joinery
↑ Suspended ceilings

Staying level

→ Curtain walling
→ Atrium roofing
→ Drylining
→ Demountable partitions
→ General joinery
→ Raised floor
→ Controls

Going down

↓ Concrete works
↓ Decorating
↓ Ductwork
↓ Sprinklers