CLC warns of hold-ups getting products to stores

A shortage of lorry drivers is now the major concern for many suppliers as the materials crisis continues, an update from the Construction Leadership Council has said.

The co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s product availability working group, John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, said Scotland and the South-west were being particularly badly hit.

lorry driver

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Suppliers are asking merchants to collect product themselves because they don’t have enough drivers to carry out drop-offs

They added: “Haulage and the lack of availability of drivers, are now the major concerns affecting distribution with some suppliers asking builders merchants to collect their orders as they cannot get enough drivers to complete deliveries.”

And they admitted: “The problem is not limited to our sector, and with similar haulage issues affecting a wider distribution network there is no short-term fix.”

The update said imports from China were going to be held up because key ports in that country were operating at a reduced capacity amid ongoing restriction caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

Timber, cement, roofing products, bricks, blocks, insulation, steel and cable management systems remained the products in shortest supply, while the update said global shortages of semi-conductors were a cause for concern in the lighting and appliance sectors.

The pair said: “Although product and material price inflation has slowed, indications are that it will be 2022 before prices stabilise, with some manufacturers still to implement double digit price increases to recover current and future cost inflation.”

The update added that the product availability group had also discussed the requirement for aggregates and other key products when HS2 demand is at its peak in 2022/23.

Caplehorn and Newcomb said: “Projected volumes are being shared with industry trade bodies, key suppliers and the CLC product availability group to help provide greater clarity and confidence about the industry’s ability to deliver HS2 as well as all other projects.”