The UK pipes and fittings market has achieved good levels of growth over the last five years, and although growth has slowed more recently, the market has achieved overall value growth of 21% since 2012. Key factors influencing market growth in recent years include increasing levels of demand from key end-use sectors, principally in new housebuilding and non-domestic construction, and rises in raw material prices such as copper and plastic over the last two years. The plumbing pipe systems sector accounts for over half of the pipes and fittings market with the rainwater, soil and waste products sector accounting for the remainder.

Flexible plastic plumbing pipe systems are the dominant material used in hot and cold potable water installations, particularly for new build. Factors driving the growth of the plastic sector include technological developments, improved reliability, installation efficiency, the growth of underfloor heating and the price advantage over metal products. In addition, in the residential sector, the faster rate of growth of new build, compared with RMI, has boosted the market share of plastic, as plastic tends to dominate the new build sector.

In particular, plastic push-fit and press-fit fittings have experienced growth due to the considerable savings made on installation time. In addition, with increasing health and safety legislation, and the lack of ‘traditional’ skills of soldering and welding pipework, there has been a continuing shift in the market towards flame free jointing. Use of multi-layer barrier pipes, including a metal layer to protect against degradation, has also grown significantly in the water supply sector.

Although the market for copper pipe has grown relatively more slowly in recent years, it is still used across the majority of heating installations, and copper pipe remains a popular choice among plumbers, particularly in exposed areas, where its ‘traditional’ aesthetic appeal remains strong, and copper shows signs of starting to stabilise its market share

PVC-U continues to dominate the above ground rainwater guttering, soil and waste pipework sector. There is continuing demand for seamless aluminium guttering and cast-iron effect PVC-U guttering, which provides the effect of cast iron.

The focus on reducing water consumption has increased in recent years and rainwater harvesting has become an important way of achieving this, especially in densely populated areas, such as London and the South East, where water shortages are more likely.

The outlook for the UK pipes and fittings market in 2018 is moderately positive, supported by continued growth in construction levels and RMI expenditure, though the rate of growth is likely to be slower than in the period 2012-2016. However, residential RMI – which the market is highly reliant on – is likely to experience low annual growth rates reflecting weaker consumer confidence, rising inflation, a reduction in the DIY skills base and fewer high value RMI projects such as bathrooms, kitchens and extensions. A flat house moving market is also having a negative impact on RMI activity at present.

This article is based on data from AMA Research’s ‘Pipes and Fittings Market Report – UK 2018-2022‘ containing insight, statistics and forecasts on the UK’s pipes and fittings market up until 2022.