Can you Adam and Eve it? We’re already halfway through the year. It only seemed like the other day it was Easter Sunday! I guess time flies if you’re either having fun or working too hard to have fun and you forget what day of the week it is. So I reckon this time is as good as any to pick over some of the best bits of the year so far and see what might be in store before we start ringing in the New Year!

Sales probably where they should be

Taking a generalised look at what the industry has said over the past six months on sales, I would estimate that overall sales levels are where the industry thought they should be by this time of year.

The first six months of last year in comparison were much more energetic. From what was said, industry sales and activity was unlike anything we’d seen for years and came definitely out of the blue. But then what followed was a definite slow down over the last six months heading into 2015.

The difference I think this time around is that the industry has been steadily building throughout the year, rather than seeing a hell-for-leather approach then the second six months falling a bit flat. I personally have a hunch that the industry will have a stronger July to December than in 2014. I think we’ll even seen expansion from 2014 by the end.

On a personal level at our installation company, I’d say sales are where they should be up to press. We’re not ahead of our targets like we were last year. But if we keep plugging away at the levels we are doing then we should not only beat last year’s sales, but come pretty close to a rather steep target we set ourselves at the beginning of the year.

Busy acquisition front

I’d say that the first six months has seen a pretty busy period on the acquisition front. We’ve had a number of business and personnel acquisitions at the DW3 Products Group. They are stacking up a few quality companies now, along with some high profile industry experts to make sure things stay on the right track. These guys aren’t done for this year yet, so keep an eye out for them.

We’ve also had US group Quanex snap up Flamstead Holdings which has HL Plastics, Wegoma Machinery Sales Ltd and Vintage Windows Ltd. This one was a big one worth an estimated $145m – in cash. Yet another American company snapping up established British businesses.

And yet another American deal, this time with Masco agreeing to take over timber alternative pioneers Evolution. All of this foreign interest in our companies must be a good sign. A sign that we’re doing things right, and countries like American want a bit of the action as well. Can only be a good thing.

Going forward in the rest of this year, I think there is plenty more buying and selling to be done. The big companies are wanting to strengthen their portfolios, and I am sure there are a few companies who wouldn’t mind a few quid in selling up either.

Big moments

There have been a few notable moments so far this year. The potential scrapping of the WER label by the EU for example. But I think the most important has to be the general election. I was away at the time, observing events where I could from a hotel room. However it was clear that a Tory majority was easily a shock result, with an audible cheer from the wider business community.

I think if anyone but the Tories succeeded in the election, the business community would have become a bit jittery. Nerves would have set in over the guaranteed uncertainty and deal making, having an overall negative effect on the economy.

That didn’t happen, and all seems quite well. At least for some anyway.

There is though a big moment coming up soon, and that is the expected announcement of the scrapping of the Green Deal. That shoddily planned, shoddily implemented and shoddily communicated energy efficient home improvements plan that has been a total waste of time and energy for pretty much anyone involved with the whole thing. Thousands of jobs and business will go because of it’s scrapping, leaving a rather large bunch of disappointed and angry people.

Something else to watch out for is Greece and how that situation will finally end. If it ends badly, we won’t really know what the repercussions are until they happen.

Innovative attitude

I have seen a pretty good and positive attitude within the industry this year so far. There has been a general acceptance that product quality and diversity has to continue to improve if the UK is to compete with other countries in the window and door sector.

There is also an obvious push towards more premium and unique products designed to create and capture niche markets. It is this that is going to drive the market further towards general improvement and a new product portfolio that homeowners are going to get genuinely excited about.

All in all, a good solid six months. It’s time for us all to put the foot down and really make the most of the second half of this year!

As always, all comments are welcome in the section below.

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