In the grand scheme of things, April was a pretty busy month all round. Plenty to talk about. Both inside and outside the industry. So as we head into what should be feeling like Spring now, I’ll take a quick look back at the key talking points of the industry in April.
A mixed sales picture
The more people I ask, the more it feels like it’s a very mixed bag on the sales front out there. I’ll start at our place first. We had our biggest sales month of the year so far in April and lead levels were steady and strong throughout the month. As it stands right now, we’re a tad over 10% up on revenues compared to the same period last year. We have taken on another fitting crew, we’re booked up for weeks, the stores are full and the quotes keep on going out to home owners.
Yet, some of the installers out there I speak to tell me it’s very up and down. Some weeks good, some weeks poor. No consistency. Some installers are indeed pretty busy, but are then struggling to find skilled or qualified installers to be able to carry out the work. So they find themselves in a paradoxical scenario where lead times rise and home owners start to look elsewhere because they can have the work done quicker. So a rock and a hard place basically.
Fabricators seem to be talking in a similar way. Some are doing great business right now. Some are not. I will put this down to some companies investing in tech and future trends. The ones putting their hands in their pockets and spending on the tech and machinery that is going to serve them for the future will be the ones to make the most of this evolving market.
I think we are seeing what the yearly story is going to be here. Four months in and it still seems like a fairly mixed bag for many. It might be a regional thing. It might be more nuanced than that. The vital point here is that the innovators and forward thinkers will always outpace the rest.
A mixed weather picture
As you can tell from the featured image above, it was another mixed bag on the weather front. You may or may not believe that the weather plays a part in the wider economical picture, but it really does. All the recent reports into Q1 UK GDP add weather as a factor, and it will have had some impact on the window and door industry.
We began April with an early Easter and yes, a dose more snow. We closed out the end of the month with the hottest April day on record since 1949. That will have played havoc with people’s buying habits and our own industry’s fitting schedules.
The weather took another dip at the end of the month. But the good news is that as we head into May, something a bit more Spring-like is coming. No heatwave, but something a tad warmer and less wet.
The big talking points
It has to be Safestyle. The had a slew of bad news throughout the month which only added to their stock price rout. At the start of the month their share price fell by more than 6%. Following on from that, they made an announcement that they had been fined £850,000 after an on-site accident. Next, they announced their latest trading update including future guidance, which saw their share price free-fall by more than a quarter.
They have since announced that they have a new CEO in Michael Gallacher who will hope to turn things around at the company. It’s a big ask. But the Safestyle story is more a symptom of a wider dynamic change ongoing in our industry. There is very much a split between installers and fabricators right now. One side has moved heavily into the higher quality market, where profit margins are healthier and the product choice is of a far better quality. You can guess where the other half has gone, and which half the nationals reside in with their existing business models.
The other major event in April was on the 27th where the Winners Event for the 2017 National Fenestration Awards campaign was held at Doncaster Racecourse for the first time. There is a big review of that event coming in the next few days so I don’t want to steal the energy from that. But I can confirm that it was very well attended, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and we have built new relationships on which to take the awards even further.
How DGB did
Another month, another chart, more growth…
Admittedly, the build-up to the Winners Event did take priority in the final few days of April, so content publication stopped and so the traffic took a dip. But that didn’t stop 40%+ growth across all the major metrics when compared to April 2017.
In the background a number of new DGB projects are starting to take shape. A little longer than I had planned, but rather than rush them and get it wrong, I’m taking more time to get these projects in the right place before going live with them.
As for my yearly targets, I’m still well on track to smash them all early and to streak to record highs. With the new ideas in the pipeline, the longer term outlook may need to be revised upwards.
Top 5 most read
Here is your list of the top 5 most read posts published on DGB in April:
A look ahead
The Glazing Summit on May 22nd in Solihull is the main industry event taking place in the next month. There will be a number of key topics on the bill that the industry will have to chew over. Whether anything concrete and productive comes of the discussions will remain to be seen. Those attending should use this summit as a means to move things forward in the sector.
It may be another mixed bag on the sales front for much of the industry. Brexit uncertainty will rise, along with local elections on the 3rd of May and all the media dissection that comes with, non of which will help. There are a few bumps in the road we’re hitting at the moment in the UK. How these will affect our little part of the economy will remain to be seen.
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