MPA: strong first-quarter points to positive start to 2014

MPA: strong first-quarter points to positive start to 2014
Published: 01 May 2014

MPA results for 1Q14 indicate significant increases over the same period of 2013 for the British minerals products and construction sectors, albeit lower than the last quarter of 2013. Aggregates and asphalt sales volumes were about 17 per cent higher and ready mixed concrete sales five per cent up in 1Q14.

These strong volumes need to be put in the context that 1Q volumes in 2013 were historically low and markets had yet to see the benefits of the sharp pick up in housing activity from April 2013. First quarter volumes are in fact slightly lower than the very strong 4Q13 volumes, but the underlying performance over the two quarters suggests that construction market improvements are extending beyond housing and beyond London and the Southeast.

Tuesday’s provisional UK GDP figures indicated only modest construction growth of 0.3 per cent in 1Q14 compared with 4Q13, but the improvement in aggregates sector sales in recent quarters points to stronger general construction growth through 2014.

Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA, commented: “These first quarter figures add weight to the signs of recovery seen in 2013 and provide evidence that we are now seeing a more sustained improvement in construction markets. However we remain over 25 per cent below pre-recession levels of activity and we are very aware of the caution expressed by the Chancellor that the recovery has some way to go*.

Government needs to maintain a relentless focus on recovery, notably the delivery of repeatedly announced infrastructure projects, to ensure businesses throughout the UK have the opportunity to grow and invest.”

*Commenting on the provisional first quarter GDP figures, the Chancellor commented: “Today’s figures show that Britain is coming back - but we can’t take that for granted. We have to carry on working through our long term economic plan…”