In Austria, the globally active building materials manufacturer Wienerberger booked such a high demand for bricks this year that it cannot even meet with local production. Instead of one week, according to the company, you currently have to wait six to eight weeks for a delivery. Currently, the inventory is “at an all-time low, although we are producing at full capacity”, on the other hand, Austria boss Johann Marchner according to the “Kleine Zeitung” (Monday edition).
The increase in demand is even stronger than expected by the company. “At the beginning of Corona (from mid-March 2020, note), production stood idle for four weeks, since then we have been drawing for seven days, 24 hours,” reported Marchner. By the middle of the year, the great demand this year – not least thanks to the high inventory at the start of the year – had been mastered. However, the company information is not seriously turned on the price screw. “We only pass on higher costs moderately,” said the manager.
The current delivery bottlenecks at Wienerberger in Austria have nothing to do with the worldwide interrupted supply chains due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because bricks are usually produced locally and then transported to the end customer, usually only a few hours’ drive away.
According to Marchner, the triggers for the growing construction boom are, among other things, “low interest rates and people’s dread of further increases in construction costs and property prices”. Furthermore, Corona has brought about a rethinking – the security aspect is pushing home and house, which is promoting de-urbanization, so to speak. “The home office remains sustainable, so it is necessary to work at home,” said the Wienerberger Austria boss. The significant price increases in the wood sector would also have “certainly led to the fact that quantities of wood were stratified in the direction of bricks”. In addition, insulation materials have become scarce and have subsequently become more expensive, which has additionally fueled the demand for the group’s “monolithic brick wall system”. Wienerberger offers bricks in which the insulation material is already integrated. “There are a lot of effects involved,” said Marcher. “So many are investing now.”
Wienerberger has goods from Italy and the Czech Republic delivered to Austria within the group in order to cope with the massive demand. At the same time, production capacities are being expanded – around 500,000 euros in the company’s largest brick factory in Hennersdorf near Vienna, in order to be able to produce 15 percent more there. “Both measures will really come into play next year,” admitted Marcher.
In any case, an end to the boom in demand does not seem to be in sight for the time being. “In 2022 the hardware store will still be very good, in 2023 it will settle on a good balance of supply and demand,” the company boss expects. Austria is small, but a country of immigration. “We will continue to see a rock-solid hardware store.”