Lathams reflects on 2020 performance

14 January 2021

Leading UK timber products distributor James Latham has reported a major shift in the materials sector as specifiers select new products to reflect the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to James Latham, there has been a noticeable difference in sales and enquiries for certain product lines when compared with previous years.

The most significant was a 249% increase in sales of thermoplastic laminates, initially for furniture for NHS Nightingale hospitals and then later for other projects where hygiene and durability were essential.

While smaller percentage increases, a similar trend was replicated in Compact Grade Laminates (18%) and Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC), which saw a 23% rise. The latter included a number of products with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, from brands including EGGER, Abet, Kronospan and Xylocleaf.

The MFC increase can also be attributed to people spending money to adapt their homes, with 86% of adults moving to remote working during the first lockdown.

This created demand both for home offices and for better living spaces, with travel off the agenda for many during the holiday season.

“We had a big upturn in orders right at the start of the pandemic as we supplied materials to help with the development of the NHS Nightingale hospitals,” said Stuart Devoil, group marketing manager at Lathams. “This included temporary flooring, and materials for furniture, signage and medical units.

“After this, enquiries moved towards products that could help make spaces Covid-secure, with retail, hospitality and office sectors all adapting their interiors to support social distancing measures.

“As lockdown continued spend moved towards a more domestic focus. For example, we’ve seen an increase kitchen, bedroom and bathroom renovations in lieu of travel and leisure spend and investment in new home offices.”

Mortgage comparison site found that almost a quarter of adults used savings to improve their homes in 2020 at an average spend of around £4,000 per household.