These are challenging times, but I am confident we can maintain the progress we made this year, despite inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, in 2024. We are flourishing in the commercial property and education sectors, whilst quality residential housing, which has been our staple for a number of years, remains strong. In these testing times, it is vital to spread our work across as many different markets as possible.

It is also important to be optimistic. I have been in the brick industry for many years and have seen the peaks and troughs. I am hopeful that the economy will recover towards the middle of next year, once inflation is completely under control, and, when it does, I trust that the housing, construction and manufacturing sectors will be in the vanguard of this recovery.

Crucially, we have also invested £1.5 million in a complete overhaul and renewal of our manufacturing process, which has speeded up production, facilitated new products and increased efficiency. This is one of the most important investments in York Handmade’s 35-year history and it played a crucial part in the company securing a massive £580,000 contract to provide bricks for the pioneering 3 Circle Square development in the heart of Manchester. Significantly, the bricks we have supplied are for 3 Circle Square are Waterstruck Thirkleby Blend, part of our Viking range, and a stunning example of what we are able to manufacture with our brand-new plant. We were also shortlisted in two categories in the 2023 Brick Development Association’s Brick Awards, the Oscars of the brick industry, in November.

Other high-profile contracts that we have been working on or completed during the past 12 months have included landmark projects in Liverpool, Oxford, London’s Baker Street and East Lothian. In 2024, we are strengthening our relationship with the National Trust, including providing bricks for Goddards, one of York’s finest houses, together with other commissions in County Cork, Switzerland and York Racecourse
Looking ahead more generally, it is encouraging to report that brick remains the building material of choice for many architects and specifiers across the UK. We particularly value the contacts we have built up over the years with architects, planners, self-builders and developers. We look forward to continuing those relationships in the years to come.