Adrian Barden, managing director of Wolseley UK, this week called for the construction industry to modernise and become more innovative and efficient if it was to deliver the volume of houses called for in the Barker report.
He said that he expected Wolseley to take an active approach to change in order to meet this challenge. “If we are going to deliver 220,000 houses a year, we need to have an effective supply chain,” he said. “We sit at the centre of the industry. The key is logistics and we see ourselves as a distribution company.”
Barden questioned whether there was the will at government level to build 220,000 houses a year as planned, and criticised the government’s apparently narrow definition of modern construction methods, equating it simply with prefabrication.
He said environmental issues also had to be addressed, noting: “The government needs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which is easy to achieve by using traditional methods of construction.”
Barden said that prospects for the construction market looked good, and predicted that steady growth would continue. He said the boom-and-bust economy of the past 30 years was now a thing of the past because of government policy.
Barden said Wolseley, as an FTSE-100 building materials company, had been at the forefront of consolidation in the sector, and added that he expected this trend to continue.
He said: “In our own sector, there are still a lot of mom-and-pop outfits so consolidation is a long way off.”
He said that he would like to see Wolseley develop in a number of areas, including roofing, decorating, electrical and insulation.