The water industry has Ofwat, he energy industry has Ofgem, the education industry has Ofqual. All are official bodies that oversee their particular industries, and where applicable, regulate on pricing. Given the focus of rising raw material costs, maybe it is time the home improvement sector had it’s own official regulator.
If any of you watched the big six energy companies being questioned by MP’s the other week, you will have noticed one significant turning point in the questioning. The MD of a small independent energy company called Ovo Energy explained that his raw material costs had actually fallen for him, despite buying far less in comparison to companies such as British Gas, and was therefore able to bring down his charges. The big six energy companies saw a small increase, which went unexplained, but decided to charge almost 10% extra. So why such a massive gulf? What I think it partly to blame is the unregulated markets which have become such a grey and murky background to the energy industry that no one really knows what is going on, so energy companies can just about get away with it. My argument is that our very own fenestration industry has the same murky background and that things could be far more transparent than what they already are.
We see all the time letters from the biggest glass companies or the biggest extruders that they are having to raise their prices due to the rising cost of transport and raw materials. Well fuel really has been stable now for quite a while, and are we really supposed to just take their word for it that raw materials have gone up so much they need to start raising prices by 15%? No, I don’t think we should.
I think now is very much the time to start opening up the background of the home improvement industries and start making the whole process from start to finish on a B2B level totally and unequivocally transparent. Lets face it we have no trust that these price increases are justified, and they are very unwelcome at a time when businesses are just starting to get back into the swing of things. Just as with energy, I believe that some of the recent price hikes our industry has had to bear are unjustified and I wouldn’t mind seeing an investigation into the way our raw materials are bought and priced.
Agree or disagree? All comments welcome in the section below.