Demand for pipes and tubes from the housing sector has remained strong throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, says sales manager at pipe and tube maker Stewarts & Lloyds Clayton Greer.
He explains that plumbing service providers “had a lot of work going on” to repair and maintain existing homes, as well as hospitals, while also taking care of new housing and hospital developments across the country, boosting sales figures for the pipe and tube division of Stewarts & Lloyds. over the past 12 months.
“Each new house built translates into around R150,000 worth of plumbing material that we can supply,” he comments, citing thousands of townhouses and apartments being built over the next few months in Midrand. and Centurion, Gauteng, as proof of resilient demand. .
For example, Stewarts & Lloyds Projects – a Tier 2 Black Economic Empowerment Partnership between contractor PeoSeed Solutions and Stewarts & Lloyds Holdings – announced in October last year that it had supplied all pipework and fittings for the fire protection system, suspended equipment and fire water system for the R5.5 billion Steyn City development.
The 900 ha Steyn City residential complex is located between Fourways and Lanseria, Johannesburg, and is the country’s largest residential estate by land area.
Stewarts & Lloyds Projects supplied the pipework, worth around R5 million, through on-site contractors Fidelity Fire Solutions, who won the contract to supply and install the fire sprinkler system. fire for phase 3 of the construction of City Center One in Steyn City.
The Steyn City development uses approximately 1.1 km of piping for the fire protection system, from one side of the project to the other. Construction of Phase 3 of City Center One in Steyn City began in May, with this part containing more sprinkler heads than the tallest building in South Africa.
Greer says there is also significant untapped potential in the agricultural irrigation sector, but growth in the sector is not as strong now as it was at the start of 2020.
Nevertheless, Stewarts & Lloyds is pursuing greater penetration into the agricultural sector in the future.
He notes that there has always been a strong demand for piping from the mining sector.
Although the pandemic has had a negative impact on imports, which in turn has affected the availability of supply, it has allowed Stewarts & Lloyds to deplete its large inventory, turning inventory into cash, explains Rig.
However, strict Covid-19 global travel restrictions have made it difficult to restock as quickly as usual.
“We managed to rebuild the stock to a good level only about six months ago,” says Greer.
Part of the strategy to ensure inventory was available to customers during a period of stable demand and low supply was to buy up competitors’ inventory while capturing market share through aggressive sales campaigns.
“As many other vendors in our industry scaled back, trying to weather the storm, we were extremely active in securing new business while mopping up our opposition,” he adds.
The challenges posed by the pandemic have proven beneficial to the company and despite its good response to the pandemic, the future of the pipe and tube industry remains highly volatile, Greer says.
The instability of supply has led to volatile prices, making it difficult to predict market performance over the next 12 months.
Greer says some suppliers limit the validity of their quotes to just three days, as opposed to the standard 30 days, because prices are so volatile from day to day.
“Companies will quote a price, only for it to change drastically the next day. Galvanized pipe, for example, is up about 33% in two and a half months. It’s unpredictable.
He says Stewarts & Lloyds’ response to the volatile price scenario has been to buy large amounts of stock – such as importing 600t of galvanized pipe at a time instead of the usual 100t a month – to temporarily stabilize prices for a few months.
Stewarts & Lloyds has also added plastic pipes and fittings to its product offering, including HDPE, polyvinyl chloride, gas and corrugated pipe and fittings; galvanized pipes and fittings; Klamflex couplings; Kent water meters; valves; flanges; and Plasson compression fittings.
The company’s line of plastic products caters to the building, agriculture, mining, construction and telecommunications sectors. It includes pipes and fittings for various applications in these industries, including water meters, electrofusion machines, backup rings, above and below ground construction fittings, pipes mining, gas pipes and fittings, mining pipes, garden hoses and sewer pipes.
Greer says the new range of plastics is particularly suited to South African applications, due to the significantly reduced likelihood of pipes and fittings being stolen, unlike copper or galvanized steel, which are popular options for scrap. .
“There are many new developments that don’t want to use copper or galvanized steel because of theft,” he explains.
In addition, plastic pipes and fittings are much easier to cut, assemble and install.
“Demand for this range is still in its infancy, but we believe it will grow,” he concludes.