On Friday I visited Forterra Plc in my South Northamptonshire constituency to hear more about their leading work in the construction industry, and how they are building resilience and innovation into their business model.
Sitting down with Forterra’s Chief Executive Stephen Harrison and the Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation Dr Laura Cohen, I heard how this UK leader in manufactured masonry products – employing nearly 2,000 staff across 18 “brick and block” manufacturing facilities and at their Northampton HQ – is leveraging its strong market positions to deliver a range of products within residential walling, flooring and roofing. They have some fantastic pioneering products, and provide everything but the kitchen sink for housebuilding including the traditional outer brickwork and the inner cavity blocks.
We discussed some of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry; I was very pleased to hear that Forterra is employing over 30 apprentices, and 7 graduate trainees, and is making huge amounts of capital investment to improve its portfolio of manufacturing facilities, making them more energy efficient and less carbon intensive.
Overall, the UK construction industry makes up around 10 per cent of our workforce, with the specialist construction products sub-set providing around 337,000 jobs and employing more people than automotive and aerospace manufacturing combined! I also learnt that 76 per cent of all construction products that are used in the UK are made in the UK; great news for UK Plc!