Fletcher Building's Winstone Wallboards, with 94 per cent of New Zealand's plasterboard market, is increasing production and resuming imports to supply an extra one million square metres in the next three months.
Winstone, headed by general manager David Thomas, has announced that it is upgrading its Penrose mill to make more Gib and is buying more from overseas.
Winstone told customers of a series of measures "many of which have been in train for months".
"Additional product will be available to distribute from July. This equates to an additional one million square metres of plasterboard in the market through the July to September period and a 7 per cent to 8 per cent increase of various types of plasterboard," the company said.
The increases will be possible from changes over the past three months to the configuration of its Penrose mill, it said.
"We have also been able to secure and will import additional board from an Australian manufacturer that we can feed into our supply chain," the company said.
Fletcher was importing plasterboard from Australia for six months last year when it ran out here because of extremely high demand.
Ross Taylor, Fletcher's chief executive, today said: "The current plasterboard supply constraints are being driven by record levels of building activity. We understand the issues impacting the industry and, given our unique role as one of New Zealand's remaining large-scale manufacturers, we have been [doing], and will continue to do, everything possible across all our operations to alleviate the situation.
Winstone said production would increase from July 1.
"Our PlaceMakers distribution arm will use a portion of its extra volume to create a pool of plasterboard to focus on builders with critical needs. This will be done at a local level across the country, so this emergency supply pool is directed to those with the most pressing needs. It's reasonable to expect that the other building merchants will sell their extra volume to the builders who can use it immediately and who need it the most," the company said.
The allocation model it had introduced is beginning to make positive inroads with supply, it said on who gets Gib and when.
Only sites ready to apply it are eligible to receive it under the model operating now.
"We are also on track to open our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tauriko, Tauranga, next year. Construction began in 2020 and the new plant will increase our production output by 50 per cent, providing the long-term capacity to more than meet current plasterboard demand levels," the company said.
"There's no doubt that the building and construction industry is doing it tough, given the current market conditions and we empathise with all our customers who are being impacted. We are committed to continuing to support and grow our industry and are investing significantly in its future," Winstone said.
Default KiwiSaver provider Simplicity's Sam Stubbs and the Shareholders Association's Oliver Mander are due to meet Taylor and Fletcher chairman Bruce Hassall tomorrow.
They are approaching the company as a client that develops new homes and as a shareholder with Simplicity holding 0.8 per cent of shares, worth around $35m.
Last week Simplicity cancelled all contracts to buy Gib for its first 550 affordable homes in Auckland. Simplicity is developing build-to-rent homes, with the rent flowing into its KiwiSaver arm.
Its building business is importing four containerloads of Thai plasterboard a month and it offered to share details on how to import high-quality substitutes to Gib. Simplicity has already received more than 75 inquiries from developers and builders.
They range from New Zealand's biggest group home builders to family-run developers, all over New Zealand.
"The number of inquiries in such a short time confirms that this is a nationwide crisis," said Shane Brealey, Simplicity Living managing director.
Mander said: "We're concerned about the political and reputational impacts caused by the Gib supply issue on the sustainability of shareholder returns."
Stubbs said he hoped the meeting would be open and constructive.
"As a customer of Fletcher Building, we have voted with our feet and cancelled all future Gib orders and as a shareholder, we want to understand how they can better deliver for all stakeholders," Stubbs said.