The professional portable power tools market is a specialist sector within the overall portable power tools category, and the UK market for professional portable power tools is relatively mature and highly competitive. Growth within the market is heavily reliant upon activity levels in new build & RMI construction, which in turn are influenced by the state of the UK economy. Other factors include trends within manufacturing and engineering industries, as well as industry-specific issues such as legislation and product innovation. The market is currently recovering broadly in line with the UK economy, and growth has returned to the category after its weak performance during the downturn. Sales of power tools have been rising since 2013, and saw an increase of 4% in 2015.
Factors supporting market growth include increasing activity within the UK construction industry, in both the housebuilding and non-residential sectors, and a move among householders away from ‘doing it yourself’ (DIY) towards ‘getting someone in’ (GSI). The market is also subject to regulatory influences and prevailing EU legislation covers areas such as noise control, vibration levels and use and emission of noxious and/or hazardous substances, such as dust. In recent years, product development has also underpinned market growth. The most notable example has been Li-ion battery technology, which has increased the appeal and penetration of cordless power tools. Other developments likely to impact upon the market over the coming years include brushless motor technology and the emergence of more compact and/or lightweight products. Despite the growing popularity of cordless tools, corded products remain important to the professional power tools market, especially within sectors such as angle grinders and sanders.
The drilling, driving & breaking sector dominates the market, accounting for around 50% of sales. The other two sectors, namely cutting & grinding and carpentry & woodworking, account for the remainder of the market. The market is relatively concentrated from a supply perspective, with three suppliers accounting for approximately two-thirds of value sales. Distribution of power tools is very fragmented. The key distribution channel for professional portable power tools is general industrial products distributors, while other key channels include builders merchants and power tool specialists, while DIY multiples have also made efforts of late to target both professionals and homeowners. Internet sales account for a growing share of the power tools market, due partly to the lower prices and wider ranges usually offered, and the increasing number of retailers and distributors offering a ‘Click & Collect’ service.
The market is forecast to enjoy a period of sustained growth during the years leading up to 2020. Growth within the market will remain heavily linked to activity levels in domestic and non-residential sectors of the construction industry and, to a slightly lesser extent, by the performance of the UK’s manufacturing and engineering industries. The current success of cordless products is forecast to continue – especially in areas of the market such as drills and breakers. It is probable that brushless motor technology will also make increasing inroads into the market, given its links with improved tool performance. Other product developments are likely to include the continued move towards lighter and more compact tools, as well as products which are marketed as being more environmentally-friendly. However, margins are likely to come under pressure from the high level of price competition in the market. The trend towards cheaper products, which is being accelerated by the Internet, may restrict overall market value growth. It is expected that online channels will continue to account for a growing proportion of sales.