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Light side equipment suppliers are feeling the pinch

Light side manufacturers – including heating and ventilation firms – have started to feel the effects of the economic downturn.

A state of trade survey undertaken by the Construction Products Association (CPA) and the Construction Confed-eration showed that in the third quarter of 2008 overall light side sales had fallen.

The report said: “In 2008, sales of light side products have not suffered to the same extent as heavy side products, although sales have not been as buoyant as in early 2007.

“However, the 2008 third quarter survey is the first to highlight a fall in light side sales.

“The vast majority of both heavy and light side manufacturers have reported sales have decreased by over five per cent in the last quarter.”

The survey found that it was not just the private housing sector which was suffering. The industrial sector, which has seen five years of expansion, has now fallen sharply, with 37 per cent of contractors on balance reporting that output is lower than 12 months ago and the CPA predicting output will fall by 22 per cent in 2008.

In the commercial sector 37 per cent of contractors on balance also reported output had fallen.
The report noted that contractors were likely to be under severe pressure due to increased costs and a “significant downward pressure on tender prices”.

Rod Pettigrew, head of commercial and legal at the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association, said: “I think some of our members are already seeing some of the effects of the downturn and we are starting to see more queries about payments.

“I think we can expect to see next year a slowdown in work, more difficulty with payments and fewer opportunities.

“However, it will be patchy and will depend on which area of the country and which area of activity a member is working in.”