Just when it looked like things would never improve for SA’s beleaguered building-supplies sector, a much-needed boost — in the form of Cyril Ramaphosa being named ANC president — seems to have saved the day. "Until late last year conditions were exceptionally weak," says John Loos, FNB household and property sector strategist. "The building and renovations sector will not shoot the lights out but sentiment has now improved all round." Italtile, SA’s largest tile retailer and manufacturer, is already seeing signs of improvement. "High-income earners who last year held back on spending are back in the market," says Italtile CFO Brandon Wood. "In our relatively small commercial division we are also seeing projects that were put on hold now coming back on stream." Italtile, which has a tile retail market share of about 45%, serves the market through its high-end Italtile, midmarket CTM and lower-end TopT brands. MD of Spar Group’s Build It division, Wayne Hook, also puts a positive sla...

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