You know that we’re all tired of that B-word when it’s hardly mentioned at the FIT Show just a few weeks back. In an exhibition which saw 10,000 unique visitors, I can’t remember a single time where I heard the B-word mentioned either in conversation to me or in passing.
I am of course talking about Brexit. The single biggest issue that has affected everyone one of us since June 2016 and will continue to affect us for years to come.
I went to the FIT Show thinking that Brexit and the General Election to be two of the biggest topics being discussed throughout the three days. Turns out I was wrong. I hardly heard either mentioned, and to be totally honest, I was glad. Even I’m completely bored of Brexit and politics in general at the moment. Right now I think I’d rather try and plait fog than enter into a long discussion about either.
That was the sense I got at the FIT Show.
Bigger issues to address
I guess that attentions were sadly drawn to the tragedy in Manchester in which 22 people were killed by a suicide bomber at the Manchester MEN Arena just hours before the doors to the 2017 FIT Show opened. There was definitely a subdued atmosphere as the news began to sink in with everyone. Suddenly a window exhibition didn’t seem that important.
Naturally, security was stepped up over the three days and armed police, bag checks and sniffer dogs became the focus of conversation outside industry talk.
Conversation did move on to other industry things however. The rise of patio sliders was one of them. You could see that the industry was really gearing up to make the most of the rise in it’s popularity again as there were plenty of display from lots of exhibitors this year.
Energy efficiency continued to be a talking point also. U-Values I noticed were a particular USP being touted this year. There appeared to be a race to the bottom (which is a good thing for U-Values) for suppliers to claim the lowest U-Value for their product. I see a big move towards measuring energy efficiency in this way, which is something I’ll address in another DGB post.
Still no Brexit though. Or the election. Political fatigue?
No burying heads
There are plenty of us, including myself, who will be sick to the back teeth of hearing or talking about politics of any kind. We had a shambles of an election which saw the majority of opinion polls wrong again and May actually losing her majority instead of increasing it. That was bad enough, but we still have Brexit to sort out, which negotiations on which have now finally begun.
The sad thing is however we cannot bury our heads for two years whilst they continue and hope to wake up with everything sorted. This is going to be a massive national effort to create a brand new position for all of us and to make sure that new position creates prosperity.
It’s going to affect the window industry in a big way. Not just in the traditional senses with things like consumer confidence, which is still an important gauge to keep tabs on. But there will be physical and real world changes for those manufacturers that have links with Europe and around the world.
For example, the larger companies, syscos for example, who have bases here and across the channel will need to know what any new trading arrangements will mean for production and transportation of their products from there to here. Will it be tariff free? Will there be paper work changes? What sort of official procedures might need to be altered?
The same goes for the major glass companies too. Many are headquartered elsewhere but operate here. How will that change things?
On the costs front, these changes are most likely going to have an impact. Even if things like currencies, oil and domestic demand remain stable, I suspect many in the supply part of the chain are going to use this as an opportunity to raise their costs, regardless of what the external factors are. This is an open goal.
So, if you’re already tired of hearing about Brexit, as I am sure many of you are, you’re probably best turning off all electronic devices for the next two years.
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