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What you need to know this month

  • Amid much celebration, the CFJ/CFA Awards 2021 was held at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire on Friday 3 September. The guest speaker was Reverend Richard Coles. Notable winners included MacGregor Flooring and Polyflor for The Louisa Jordan SEC Glasgow as Installation of the Year; Peter Kelsey of Designer Contracts for Outstanding Achievement; Polyflor for Manufacturer of the Year; and Jack Gray of Veitchi Flooring for Apprentice of the Year, among others.
  • Good growth is forecast in the LVT market over the next few years, says a report by flooring research specialists Leading Edge. With economic and construction activity set to recover after Covid-19, Leading Edge estimates an 8% growth for 2021 LVT volume compared to 2020. Construction sectors important for LVT will see steady increases in activity and LVT will continue to grow its share of the flooring sector, albeit more slowly than previously.
  • The construction sector surged throughout August according to the latest Barbour ABI data. Some of the eye-catching numbers included residential approvals reaching £3.8bn for the month; the industrial sector hitting £1bn in planning approvals; and the education sector seeing its highest contract award value since January 2017.
  • Three Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspections between October 2019-January 2020 saw Venus Properties and Development being issued with multiple prohibition and improvement notices for various health and safety failings. Breaches found included work at height, sleeping onsite, lack of guarding on a metal guillotine, electrical safety, wood dust and safety during lifting operations.
  • The UK is short about 100,000 HGV drivers, partly because many EU employees returned home owing to Brexit and Covid-19. Government has urged employers to hire locally but there is concern that it will take time to train new drivers. Making things worse, Covid-19 has led to a backlog of those waiting to take their HGV test.
  • The stamp duty holiday may finally be ending but the property market is still on fire, with Barratt Developments, the UK’s biggest housebuilder, revealing a record number of people are waiting to buy its homes. Its orders total a staggering £220m more than last summer and nearly £1bn more than 2019.
  • Three years after Lincolnshire care-worker Jess Wells walked into a construction careers event, she’s now the first woman to have achieved a highly specialised construction qualification. Jess, 29, was a care worker in 2018 when she approached surface preparation specialists The Preparation Group after the event and later joined the company.
  • Almost £57,000 of tools were stolen every day in 2020, according to data from the Metropolitan police. Tool theft has cost tradespeople in London more than £38m in the past two years, and £17.5m in 2020 alone, Metropolitan Police data has revealed.
  • With its London office floorspace being nearly halved from about 70,000sq ft to 40,000 sq ft owing to hybrid working, the recently renamed abrdn (previously Standard Life Aberdeen) is looking to secure a new London office in the former City of London office of the Royal Bank of Scotland at 280 Bishopsgate.
  • Supply bottlenecks, increasing cost of raw materials and the fear of new viral outbreaks were partly responsible for China’s manufacturing sector shrinking in August for the first time since early 2020. Although the country’s economy rebounded last year, the new figures are causing concern that the global economic bounce-back could be hampered.
  • Accounting watchdog The Financial Reporting Council has formally complained about the allegedly ‘false and misleading’ information given by KPMG relating to its audits of the liquidated construction giant Carillion starting in January 2018. Carillion’s collapse was described as ‘the largest ever trading liquidation in the UK’. KPMG will now reportedly face a disciplinary tribunal.
  • The European Central Bank is jittery after inflation in the EU in August reached its highest level in a decade with consumer prices up by 3%. The EU is suffering from many of the same problems as the UK as its lockdowns are eased: rocketing prices; supply bottlenecks; and inflationary pressure.
  • Conren, the specialist manufacturer and installer of resin systems, is celebrating 50 years of trading, describing it as ‘an impressive milestone’. Founded in 1971, to service the needs of the automotive industry with a range of epoxy resin floor-coatings, Conren says it ‘quickly established a reputation for quality long-lasting protective systems and has developed into one of the UK’s foremost providers of surfacing solutions’.
  • About 100,000 EU citizens left the UK during Covid-19, which has contributed to the fact that 41% of businesses with more than 10 members of staff struggled to fill positions in the two weeks to 5 September. 15% of construction companies have reported such difficulties. Research indicates the labour market has shrunk since 2019 leading to a widespread increase in wages.
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