Published On: Wed, Jan 17th, 2018

Dazzle customers with the upgrade option

The conservatory remains an aspirational addition to any home, the market is now characterised by thriving segments of growth

“We want a large kitchen and a conservatory,” is the aspirational desire expressed by a couple in one of the latest television adverts to hit UK homes from upmarket estate agent Savills. Flick through any home-interest Sunday supplement or home-interest magazine and you are presented with an array of adverts for properties for sale, the majority showing a conservatory as a key feature of the home. There is little doubt that a conservatory remains an aspirational addition to any home and over the years it has helped UK homeowners cost-effectively create additional living space. The conservatory’s popularity in recent times appeared to peak around the early 2000s where around 200,000 of them were being installed in the UK. Today, this figure has dropped to around the 70-80,000 mark. This figure is considered by many in the industry to be slightly misleading when it comes to the current state of the market.

In the early 2000s the industry was focused on getting as many conservatories installed as could be humanly possible, taking advantage of the British public’s desire to extend their homes with Victorian, Edwardian and lean-to conservatories. Britain was in the grip of the ‘improve not move’ epidemic and the cost-effective benefits of a conservatory were too good to ignore. We never really reached a saturation point, and you can still look out from a train window on to many houses that have no conservatory. My personal favourite journeys for this unusual pastime are the stretch of the Metropolitan overground tube line between Pinner and Harrow, and the tracks north of Milton Keynes. I often wonder what was it that prevented these homeowners from joining the conservatory revolution, and the only real answer I found was perhaps the houses were rental properties.

Today, the conservatory market is a real mixed bag of installation and product types. Back in 2016, Palmer Market Research identified that the market for second-time conservatory replacement saw growth of 13% to in the region of 2,200 units. He also identified a more significant market; replacement roofs were witnessing growth of 62% and had reached 11,200 units in 11,200. During this same period the orangery was starting to make serious inroads and in 2015 saw growth of 26%. What was clear in 2015 and 2016 was that the conservatory market was really changing shape, and as we enter 2018 there has been another massive shift in market composition. To the purist, it may not be technically classified as a conservatory, but the glazed lantern has really taken off over the last 18 months as orangeries and glazed extensions have been taken to the next level. The revolution really started with the advent of orangery systems; in many cases they featured lanterns and it is here where the glazed lantern really infiltrated the conservatory market. Roof lanterns are now a product installers can’t ignore. They are often installed above sliding and bi-folding doors in orangery-style structures and in predominantly glazed extensions. Huge leaps in the energy efficiency of glass have also contributed to the popularity of glazed extensions and replacement roofs. Energy efficiency has also been a key driver in the development of solid conservatory roof products. These have been sold into situations by replacing an existing traditional roof or where the conservatory installer has been able to offer a solid roof conservatory as an alternative to a traditionally built extension.

Innovation has been a key characteristic of the modern-day conservatory market. The roof element has been taken to a new level by manufacturers. Importantly, the conservatories of today also feature large numbers of bi-folding and sliding doors and energy-efficient windows, making the sector still an attractive proposition for manufacturers and installers. The number of fresh installations may have reduced, but with more complex designs and more advanced products the average installed value has been increasing. The mix of products installed has become more complex and this has challenged the traditional definition of the conservatory. The headline news may say the conservatory market has fallen away in terms of volume, but when you look deeper you will unearth a market that has fragmented and features thriving segments such as roof lanterns, solid roofs, replacement roofs and extension-style creations. As the homeowners said in the Savills advert: “We want a conservatory” – well let them have what they want, and if they already have one, let them be dazzled by the opportunities to upgrade it…..