In 2018, total sales of the Dutch facing brick grew strongly. This growth was export driven, although domestic sales also experienced an upturn (+ 6%). In 2017, these sales were still on the decline (- 2%). In 2018, sales of clay pavers remained virtually unchanged (1% ) after double-digit growth in 2017.
The prognosis of stagnating growth in the housebuilding sector in the coming years and the uncertainty in the British market (Brexit), which is of relevance for the Dutch brick industry, make it uncertain whether the magic sales limit of 1 billion Waalformaat will be achieved in the short and medium term.
Sector in transition
Challenges in the area of the energy transition for industry, for buildings and in staffing of plants have led manufacturers in the clay processing industry to further reflect upon the future. A new Transition and Innovation Council of the KNB is to provide guidance for the industry in this.
In other respects, the industry sees good opportunities for the fired clay product in a circular construction economy. Pivotal to this are the reuse and deployment of secondary raw materials. The KNB strongly emphasizes including the interest of natural capital in this. It refers to the creation of new nature areas, the contribution to the lowering of water levels and maintaining the depth of the waterways by clay extraction for bricks and roofing tiles.
At the presentation of the Annual Report 2018, KNB Director Mr Ewald van Hal was positive about the industry’s possibilities to meet the requirements of a sustainable and climate-conscious society. “In our industry there is ample innovative power both on the product and the process side and there is a will to change”, according to the KNB Director.
In 2018, the challenge was to find sufficient operational trade professionals to install the many bricks, roofing tiles and tiles. The shortage of professionals is a broad problem and is mentioned as one of the causes why it is not possible to achieve sufficient construction volume. The government’s target is to build 75 000 new houses a year, a number that has not been met year after year.
It has prompted the KNB to organize again the National Bricklaying Championship (which has been held since 1953) in 2018. The winners of this heroic battle for the Silver Trowel await a golden future in the bricklaying profession. The final workpiece was once more based on a design by architecture students from the famous Delft university
Further details can be found in the 2018 Annual Report of the Royal Association for Building Ceramics (KNB).