Survey shows underlying strength of steel’s market share
Steel has occupied a lot of headline spaces in the past few weeks with a national debate underway over whether steel production by blast furnace or electric arc furnaces is the way for the UK to go. Without straying too far here into what is an extremely complicated debate, we can say that BCSA members are confident of continuing to supply their customers with the quality of steel that they want, at a competitive price, whichever route steel manufacturers decide to take.
The best way of avoiding price or availability issues is to engage your steelwork contractor as early as possible to ensure that the steel you want will be available when you want it – as it always has been.
The constructional steelwork sector is confidently looking forward to the more sustainable future that the move towards reducing carbon emissions from steel production is part of. Steel’s sustainability advantages are many and varied, and can be seen in all the projects that we have covered in NSC over the years. They can also be expected to be even more appreciated in future as all parts of the supply chain tighten their sustainability performance.
More confidence for a sustainable steel future comes from the latest independent market survey from Construction Markets (see News) which has just been published. It shows that there was a very small decrease in consumption of structural steelwork in 2023, of just 1%, which is actually a highly creditable performance considering all the headwinds that the economy faced. Steel’s market shares have been maintained or increased in the key sectors.
Last year saw what seems to have been the end of a post Covid-19 recovery, and economists are now poised to see which way investor confidence will sway next. There was a widely reported hesitancy during the year among some industry clients in the face of rising interest rates, energy prices and political uncertainty, which possibly won’t go away until the next general election which is expected to be held this year. But the most recent reports suggest that consumer confidence is growing, and will be helped by an expected continued reduction in energy prices.
A forthcoming election is an easily justifiable excuse for not making any decisions and just waiting to see what happens next. There have been signs of that, but also of clients with enough confidence in the future to press on with investments. There are several sectors where growth can be expected to remain firm, like logistics buildings for online retailers and data centres. Employers reportedly struggle to get staff back to the office, and a key carrot to encourage them to return will be attractive, aesthetically pleasing offices, which steel routinely provides.
The refurbishment market has strengthened as clients consider whether that would be a more sustainable option than demolish and rebuild. Existing buildings with steel frames will always prove to be more easily reconfigured to meet changing needs than others, and we can expect this to be remembered by building owners when they make other investment decisions.