Keystone Comment: Q2 2023

The second quarter of 2023 started with a horrendous April before ‘recovering’ in May and June to make us feel slightly better, although significantly down on the same period last year. Overall, it was similar to Q1 2023, which is a massive reflection on the current market, which should be buoyant this time of year.

Rising interest rates and high inflation continue to influence consumer confidence and the new build and RMI market, as decisions on spending on housing are being delayed or postponed. The drop in manufacturer volumes is having a significant impact on labour costs, but it’s critical we all maintain a skilled workforce to allow for market improvement in the future. The impact of Part L new building regulations applying to all projects from 15 June 2023 requires steel lintel manufacturers to hold a far greater breadth and depth of stock ranges. No longer is there a product range that delivers mass production efficiencies.

Recent statistics on new home registrations in Q2 2023 are fairly alarming, although these need to be considered in combination with plots registered previously to beat the building regulation changes. Through Q3 & Q4 2023 we will see those pre-June 23 plots switch to the new regulations requiring hi-therm lintels, spread across the three main cavity widths. Cavity widths are also changing in the RMI market, yet enquiries are still mainly for 100mm cavity.

Our advice, for our loyal stocking merchants, is not to rush into rash stock range changes but work with us to understand your local demand and specification. Together we will develop your future stock range to benefit your yard and sales teams.

Sustainability is a key area for Keystone, in terms of our offer and our own business operations. We are committed to reducing emissions in our own operations by 60% by 2030, in line with the Climate Change Council’s ambitions. This pledge builds on the work we’ve already completed such as ensuring Keystone packaging is fully recyclable, using renewable energy throughout manufacturing, opting for electric forklifts and hybrid-electric cars, and switching to LED lighting.

We hope to lead by example, showing our industry peers, partners and customers what can be achieved when you fully commit to reducing your carbon footprint.

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