At the start of each new year, we naturally plan our paths forward in business, and the glazing industry is no different. In fenestration offices up and down the UK, we are all looking at our figures and creating targets according to what we think we can achieve and the various predictions and reports out there. We have done exactly the same at our place.
So as we head into the second half of the first month of the year, I want to know your thoughts on the upcoming year. Yes, there is a poll.
Positive? Negative? Flat?
UK GDP growth is forecast to slow. Palmer Market Research predicts a contraction in the window and door industry. Supplier prices are on the rise. Brexit. Trump. North Korea. There is plenty out there that could make you think that we’re in for a pretty shaky 2018.
Yet, more often than not, such fantastical claims fail to materialise, and the hype is just that. Hype. For me, based on the initial start at our place, coupled with the various industry reports I have read and the news coming out of the business news stream, I think we could all have a fairly positive year.
Given the state of things, both here and around the world, there are plenty of potential bumps in the road. Lets not forget about that. But as I wrote about in a previous post, there are a great number of opportunities that will present themselves in the industry this year that we should all be looking to take advantage of. Click here to catch up with that particular article.
Of the risks out there that could derail things, Brexit negotiations is high up on the list. There has been a recent softening in positions on both sides, and with a little help from Golden Boy across the pond, Sterling has rallied to $1.38. Should things get spiky and for some reason negotiations fail to progress then it is natural to assume that consumer confidence here, along with another currency fluctuation, could put the brakes on growth further. That being said, as a deal means a lot to both sides, and with plenty of political positioning to come, I think some sort of deal will be done and passed through Parliament.
All in all, it could be a flat year. The opportunities I have outlined in previous posts could be negated by things like stagnant wage growth, higher than expected inflation and slower GDP growth than we would like.
A year to be a SME
We know the national did not have a good 2017. Anglian reported a £3.3m loss. Everest investors have admitted that their investment has “not done well”. Safestyle issued a number of profit warnings and share prices fell over 40%. I cannot see 2018 being any better for them. I could easily be worse. Perhaps bad enough to see one of them end up in a very precarious position.
I do think 2018 will be a year where it will be better to be smaller. The smaller you are as a window company, be it installer or fabricator, the easier it is to adapt and be more nimble. Even in a single year the glazing market can shift one way or another. A large business, with all it’s protocols and financial structures finds it very difficult to adapt to those shifts quick enough. A small installations company though is much better places to spot those shifts in the market and adapt to make the most of those opportunities or risks.
I also believe that 2018 will be a year where home owners will seek to deal with smaller installation companies as opposed to the larger national or regional outfits. The industry is becoming much more artisan, and the smaller companies have evolved to meet this new demand much better than bigger businesses. There also remains a grass roots move towards supporting local businesses. This I can see playing out once again over the next 12 months.
With the newly announced Glazing Summit, organised by Purplex, coming in May, this will prove a good opportunity to assess things as we approach the halfway point.
But before you go and get back to your day, please take a second to vote and tell us how you think 2018 is going to go. If I get enough votes I’ll do a follow up post reporting back on the final results of the poll. You can also start the debate for 2018 via the comments section below.
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