Leading Lights 2021: A Year of Challenges & Opportunities

For this years’ Leading Lights, published by Builders’ Merchants News, MRA Research spoke to builders’ merchants and BMBI Experts for their views on industry issues and the main challenges and opportunities in 2021.

In last year’s Leading Lights, many BMBI Experts were understandably preoccupied with enduring industry issues rather than the emerging pandemic. A unique roller-coaster of a year later the industry faces a new set of challenges and opportunities.

“The pandemic turned our world upside down, and overnight changed our lives and our understanding of what’s normal,” says Mike Rigby of MRA Research who produces the BMBI reports.

“It proved a tipping point for digital, which has come into its own. How merchants, their customers and suppliers trade will never be the same again. With three national lockdowns and lots of disruption in between, the spectre of Brexit diminished in comparison.

“Lockdown 1 started very badly with the Government closing construction without actually meaning to, but it turned out to be one of the most positive 12 months for construction in a long time. High-profile recognition from Government enabled the industry to stay open, and the instruction to ‘stay at home’ and ‘work from home if you can’ triggered a boom in home improvements that is not abating.

“House prices are rising strongly driven by an exodus from major cities to work remotely and, whatever the arguments, house building is now firmly a top priority. A number of Britain’s priorities were challenged and changed in 2020, and there’ll be no going back. Twelve months on, the prospects for construction look stronger than they’ve been for years.”

A number of BMBI Experts explain the impact of Covid and Brexit on their markets, and global insight agency GfK and the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) add additional insight and perspective. Their views were published in Builders’ Merchants News’ Leading Lights supplement in April 2021.

Download the BMBI Experts Views report

You can read the full Leading Lights supplement on BMN’s website here.

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