Published On: Fri, Apr 30th, 2021

A robust business model drives longevity

The welcomed Government roadmap out of the Covid-19 crisis has brought about a sigh of relief across regions all over the UK. There is no doubt it will be a rocky road, with alterations along the way: however the path is clearing. Our own industry has been incredibly resilient over the last 12 months. After the initial complete shut-down, businesses adjusted to the new normal and actually witnessed unexpected high levels of demand. The robustness of the construction industry, especially the residential sector, has also been confirmed by the latest analysis by Glenigan. The value of residential work commencing on-site during the three months to February was 30% higher than a year ago and 17% higher than the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The fenestration sector has feet firmly in many camps, from manufacturing to construction, public sector to retail. This spread goes someway to explaining its resilience. Where many sectors are looking to re-shape their business model in order to tackle a drastically different marketplace, the fenestration sector appears to be operating with a reasonably robust model. This is part down to the nature of the products we sell and install. Retail is a good area to focus on. In the wider business world, retail sales is probably the area that has changed the most. Hospitality will return to its pre-existing operational model. However, retail will witness a permanent change. News that John Lewis is set to re-shape its business, is just another story of a high street retailer forced to adapt to a permanent shifts in consumer spend patterns.

Interestingly, despite window, door and conservatories retailers operating in a consumer led sector, the role of online transactions is limited. Online has a role to play in design and communication, but usually, when it comes down to placing the order, a homeowner wants to see and interact with the person they will be trusting with improving their home.

When we move into the manufacturing segment of the industry, the same principles exist. Humans work hand-in-hand with machines. We are yet to develop an automated manufacturing process that takes the orders, makes and then installs the window – humans will have a significant role to play long into the future. There is a slight spanner in the works though. More and more fabricators have found, as volumes increase, they are struggling to expand the workforce. In this case, machinery does offer the solution with more efficient and quicker machinery helping to expand output.

We operate in a people centric industry and one that is intertwined in the drive to improve and extend the UK’s housing stock. The sector will emerge from the pandemic more robust and leaner. However, the fundamentals of how we operate will remain. This is testament to a sector that has it right. From the way we fabricate products to the way we sell to consumers and install their chosen items, the processes have held up well. There have been some slight adjustments that have enhanced the way we operate and hopefully these will be incorporated in future strategies.

John Cowie – Editor