Published On: Thu, Feb 12th, 2015

State of the Market Report

Triple-glazing continues to divide as new Emplas poll reveals cautious optimism about window industry growth in 2015

SHOT03A new poll has found that going into 2015, installers continue to be split as to the impact triple-glazing will have on the window industry but remain optimistic as to continuing growth. Published this month, the third ‘Emplas State of the Market Report’, found that the optimism which accompanied recovery in 2013 has been eroded, so that only 63 per cent of those polled this year said that they were confident that the industry would sustain growth in 2015. This compares to 98 per cent last year.

Mike Crewdson, Sales and Marketing Director, Emplas said: “The industry has perhaps ‘sobered’ up a little in 2014. Confidence in continued growth is still high at 67 per cent, however, it’s significantly down on 2013. This may be explained by the fact that initial release latent demand post-recession with the return of consumer confidence has been and gone.

“This shouldn’t, however, be seen as cause for alarm. The possible slowdown in the rate of growth experienced by some installers in 2014 compared to the immediate post-recession recovery in 2013, is indicative of a return to normality. The industry continues to see growth but growth at a sustainable level.”

But if there was general agreement amongst respondents as to general prospects of continuing growth in 2015, they were divided as to the contribution triple-glazing would make to that growth. Of those polled, 92 per cent said triple-glazing sales had accounted for less than five per cent of their turnover in 2014. Seven per cent said that it had made up five to 10 per cent of sales, while only three per cent said that it had accounted for a tenth or more of their turnover.

This carried through to installers’ analysis of future triple-glazed sales with 67 per cent of respondents predicting that they would never exceed those of double-glazed products. Of those that thought that it would, 13 per cent said that they expected it to do so within two to three years, while 19 per cent of respondents gave a longer four to five year time frame.

Crewdson said: “The adage is that you should never say never. What is clear is that the take-up of triple-glazed products in 2014 has been minimal for most installers. This suggests that the increased cost of triple-glazing compared to double-glazing continues to suppress sales.”

The poll suggested that whatever misgivings installers and end-users might have about triple-glazing, energy efficiency remained a primary driver for home improvements. When asked if they agreed with the statement that ‘energy efficiency was the primary driver for new door and window purchases’ more than half of installers ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’. A further 30 per cent disagreed, while just under 10 per cent were undecided. Asked if ‘price was the most important factor in selecting a supplier’ 56 per cent agreed yet conversely, when asked 40 per cent of installers said that homeowners were prepared to ‘pay more for quality and service’.

This was also identified as an area of opportunity for those responding to the study with energy efficiency ranked as the single most important factor in driving retail sales. This was followed by security, quality and only then cost. When asked if they discounted regularly as part of their sales strategy, 34 per cent of respondents said that they did, 23 per cent said that they did so rarely and 43 per cent said that they didn’t discount.

“Pricing remains a challenge for many installers”, continued Crewdson. “Our own experience through our retail business T&K, suggests that limited discounting as part of a sales strategy can be effective in bringing in new business. “What we see too often at an industry level is installers who either don’t discount at all, or those who do get wound up in a race to the bottom with their competitors. Homeowners are prepared to pay for quality and service but in our experience, they also want a deal.”

Emplas uses its Installer Partnership as the platform through which to share the experience it gains through T&K with its customer base. Launched in summer 2014, it offers qualifying installers access to new levels of support including dedicated lead generation and sales support – something which helped it scoop the Customer Service Award at November’s G14 Awards. Other benefits include free website, search engine optimisation and copywriting, plus dedicated marketing collateral including their own-branded protective tape retail brochures and point of sale material. This is in addition to 24/7 online ordering and one of the industry’s most comprehensive product ranges.

When asked to rank which products they believed would be the primary drivers of growth in 2015, respondents to the Emplas poll listed foils and better aesthetics and composite doors as joint-top, followed by conservatory/orangery hybrid products. Asked which products they expected to see an increase in sales in 2015, composite doors and foils again polled highest cited by 75 and 80 per cent of respondents respectively. Conservatories were cited by 38 per cent of respondents, comparing favourably to conservatory/orangery hybrids forecast to see growth by 33 per cent of respondents.

Bi-fold doors were forecast to see increased sales by 47 per cent of those surveyed. This compares to patio/inline sliding doors at 54 per cent. “This isn’t entirely unexpected,” continued Crewdson. “We’re seeing recovery in new-build, where inline sliding doors retain popularity because of their price point and because they’re easier to fit. In retail, bi-folds continue to have huge appeal but the price-point remains a barrier.” Crewdson concluded by emphasising the importance of sustainable growth in 2015. He said: “We didn’t see the very rapid growth which we experienced in 2013 in 2014 but we saw sustained and sustainable growth. We expect to this to set the tone for 2015 with sustainable growth in the housing market and with it continuing consumer confidence.”

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