Published On: Wed, May 15th, 2024

Lessons learnt from tapping into the global market

The global Fenestration industry’s pilgrimage to Fensterbau is one not to be missed. Over the years, international markets have become more closely aligned as economies have developed, resulting in higher-grade housing throughout many countries across the world. The net result is that many windows and doors have a common platform that can be replicated in different markets. For this reason, Fensterbau has become increasingly relevant for a growing number of visitors. The products on display are often the showpieces of months, if not years, of design and innovation. This year was no different, and any attempt to unpick what may be relevant and potentially successful in the UK is a tough challenge. What is clear is the trends in product areas that will transfer over time to products that we see in UK homes. The massive investment by many of the leading global brands is not by chance; the underlying detailed research and development programs are put in place to deliver innovation that drives market desires and offers solutions to consumer needs.

This year was dominated by super-sized entrance doors, wide-expansive sliding doors, and manufacturing automation designed to reduce the over-reliance on human intervention. In all honesty, not too dissimilar from the previous instalments of the exhibition, but in many cases, products have been advanced with new technologies. This is an area that created much of the buzz around the event. Using automation and smart technology to drive interest towards windows and doors is a path that many traditionally European manufacturers have been following. Predominantly a focus for the hardware producers, automation that drives the opening of sliding doors and sensors that provide data to create a working relationship with other smart systems in the home both have the potential to go mainstream. This was an area that grabbed my attention and even led me to revisit a stand to grab a photo! In this instance, it centred around the ‘Sense by Maco’ demonstration area which previewed the importance of how smart technology in the home can communicate with each other when adhering to the ‘Matter Protocol.’ What grabbed my attention was when the window with the Maco sensor was opened, the thermostatic radiator valve was turned down to reduce heat loss—a very logical innovation, but one that will make perfect sense to homeowners who are increasingly concerned by the rises in their energy bills.

It’s these tangible benefits that help sell products. The same can be said of security and access systems. A new sleek door locking system about to be launched in the UK was also previewed at the show. It allows permanent or temporary access via an app or a keypad and is easily retrofitted to UK doors. There are others on the market, but it provides greater choice and again demonstrates that major manufacturers have confidence in the market by making significant investments in these products.

Driving the market forward is very important for the continued success of the fenestration industry. Much has been said and written about the challenges the market may be facing over the next 12 months. Discussions are regularly taking place questioning the composition of the market and the changing shape of the home improvement sales model. Is there a future in larger national retailers, or are we moving more towards a market dominated by local retailers? In all honesty, the market has always been dominated by local retailers and installers, and I don’t think this will ever change. The important bit is that we continue to develop products that homeowners want to have installed in their homes. My trip to Fensterbau made me confident that on a global scale, an abundance of products and innovations are being introduced that will give the industry plenty to sell long into the future.

John Cowie – Editor