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Netherlands up for UK materials

A JOINT industry and

government body is urging UK building materials manufacturers to look to the Netherlands for export opportunities.

The Netherlands Building Materials Task Force was formed in April last year. Its committee includes representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of the Environment and the National Council of Building Material Producers.

It recently sponsored 13 UK manufacturers to visit the Bouwbeurs 95 exhibition in Utrecht in the Netherlands. This event is held biennially and is on the scale of the UKs Interbuild exhibition.

Michael Rose, chairman of the Netherlands Building Materials Task Force, said: The rate of construction in the Netherlands is increasing. There is sustained growth and increased demand, particularly in the housing market.

And according to Mr Rose the Netherlands are crying out for certain building materials.

Bricks are in short supply, for example theres a six-month waiting list.

Bob Paterson, managing director of one of the sponsored companies, fixings manufacturer Helifix, said the trip had been a success.

The response was very good, he said. We didnt export to the Netherlands before, but we will be doing so as from next week.

Marcus Lomberg, export manager for Ultraframe, a Clitheroe-based conservatory manufacturer, was amazed by the response.

Its been absolutely tremendous the success was unbelievable, he said. People were queuing up to see us. We made 400 good contacts someone will have to spend three or four weeks over there to follow them all up.

The task force also took about 40 UK manufacturers on an inward mission to introduce them to the market and help them establish contacts. This involved attending the exhibition and visiting a construction site and two building materials merchants.

It is now planning another mission, this time to Interbuild to which it will be inviting 50 specifiers and buyers from the Netherlands.

According to Joe Gardener, Netherlands trade specialist with the DTI, about 8 per cent of imports to the Netherlands come from the UK, but the figure for building materials alone is probably lower. Mr Rose said he was confident the figure would rise over the next year.