Ibstock and Forterra both outline restructuring plans

Two of the UK’s largest brick makers, Ibstock and Forterra, have announced plans to lay off a total of 600 staff to cope with lower demand in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The job cuts are the latest to be announced by firms working in the industry in recent weeks with last month Wates and M&E contractor T Clarke saying they will axe close to 400 jobs between them.

bricks stockpiling shutterstock

Ibstock said in a trading update to the City this morning that it had begun a consultation with up to 375 staff, representing around 15% of its workforce, as part of a review of all operations. It added that it expects to close some factories as a result.

And Forterra has also outlined restructuring plans this morning which would see up to 225 jobs go, primarily from its concrete products business.

Ibstock’s update said it had begun the review because while the volume of brick sales had begun to recover from the lows experienced during lockdown, sales were still around 70% lower than this period last year.

It said it had so far restarted production at only a third of its manufacturing sites, in response to the demand it had seen.

The decision to restructure has come despite Ibstock furloughing a significant portion of its staff under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and cutting salaries of the board and executive team.

It said the changes would ensure the business was “adapted to the near-term industry demand outlook”.

Forterra said that despite its sales having recovered to 50% of corresponding 2019 levels, its revenue had declined year-on-year by 86% in April and 62% in May.

The brickmaker said the restructuring plans would lead to the mothballing of a hollowcore flooring manufacturing facility in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, once its current order book is completed.