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One billion bricks unsold for first time in two years

STOCKS of unsold bricks have topped the one billion mark for the first time in almost two years.

Latest government brick production figures underline the poor state of the house building market, where starts dropped by 15 per cent last year.

Without a pick-up in housing this year there is likely to be another wave of job cuts among brick makers.

Richard Manning, managing director of Britains biggest brick maker, Hanson Brick, said that there were positive signs in the housing market.

But he added: If we dont see a significant improvement by March we will address production.

Last year 16 per cent fewer bricks were delivered while the brick makers produced an extra 4 per cent.

The result is that there are now enough bricks in stock to meet demand for 21 weeks at current levels.

Rationalisation by the brick makers had cut stocks to below 700 million in 1994 from a peak of more than 1.5 billion in 1992.

But the expectation of a housing recovery prompted an increase in production early last year.

The recovery collapsed and now stocks have soared.