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Downward trend for order books, sales, and sales margins

13 November 2017

Order books, current sales, and sales margins have all shown a downward trend over the last three months according to the Chemical Business Association’s (CBA) latest Supply Chain Trends Survey.

The CBA’s latest on-line Trends Survey was conducted during the three weeks, 23 October – 10 November 2017, and is based on responses from 56 member companies.

The positive trend in order books and sales reported in July 2017 appears to have evaporated. Though still remaining positive, their momentum has slowed and, in relation to order books, weakened significantly. The outlook for future sales also remains uncertain whilst the industry expects to create more jobs over the next three months.


CBA’s Supply Chain Trends Survey asks companies to provide information on order books, sales, sales margins, and employment, on a ‘better–worse–same’ basis. To measure short-term trends, the analysis ignores responses answering ‘same’ and focuses on the positive or negative balance provided by the difference between the ‘better-worse’ responses.

• CURRENT ORDER BOOKS – Significantly weaker

Members are asked if their order books are better, worse, or the same than in the previous three months. The survey shows a positive balance of +14%, a significant decline from the level (+54%) recorded CBA’s last survey in July 2017.

• SALES VOLUMES – Slowdown in current sales volumes

Respondents are asked to compare their current sales volumes with the preceding three months and indicate their expectations for the next three months. Mirroring the trend of order books, current sales volumes continue to show a positive balance of +11%, though this represents a marked slowdown to the positive balance of +51% reported by CBA’s last survey. Future sales remain in positive territory at +14%, roughly the same as reported in July (+16%).

• SALES MARGINS – Pressure on margins increasing

Companies are asked to compare their current sales margins with the preceding three months and forecast their trend over the coming three months. Current sales margins have declined with a negative balance of -12% and member companies expect this trend to continue at least for the next three months as they also expect a further 12% decline in future sales margins.

• EMPLOYMENT – positive trend continues

Member companies remain positive about employment levels. The current Survey shows a positive balance of +18% in the number of companies believing they will increase employment during the next three months (July 2017, +29%).

Further information from:
Peter Newport
Chief Executive Officer, CBA
01270 258200


(1) The Chemical Business Association (CBA) represents the independent chemical supply chain. Its membership includes distributors, traders, warehouse operators, along with logistics and transport companies. CBA’s members, the majority of which are SMEs, are the main industry interface with thousands of UK downstream chemical users.

(2) CBA member companies employ more than 8,700 people. They distribute, pack, and blend over 4 million tonnes of chemicals each year with a market value of almost three billion euros. In addition, CBA’s logistics member companies handle more than four million tonnes of chemicals annually.

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