Our industry is often hailed as a competitive one, and anyone that works within it can vouch for that with confidence. With a challenging year for the industry predicated, competition within the various facets of our diverse industry will only become more fierce as companies try to stave off any negative effects from the economy.

With the FIT Show coming up in April, we could see those battles played out. These are the niches which could hot up nicely during those few days.

Triple glazing

Last year, the bar for triple glazing was raised when John Fredericks launched Rustique 3. A 44mm triple glazed unit, housed in the next generation of Halo’s Rustique profile, it was how triple glazing should have been done in the first place.

But don’t expect the rest of the industry interested in triple glazing to stand still and watch Rustique 3 take over. Apeer and their seamless glazing range, Lumi, already incorporates a 50mm triple glazed unit, housed in a unique frame that incorporates a glass edge. It looks stunning, and Apeer’s stand will be one of the more popular ones this coming FIT Show.

On the fabricator front in general, Rustique 3 will be in the cross hairs for many. It ticks the build quality, energy efficiency, sound reduction and visual aesthetics boxes easily. Triple glazing is the natural progression for windows in the UK, there will be many who will not want to be caught on the back foot.

Lantern roofs

You’re going to hear lots about this sector this year, on here, and across all trade media. To say this particular niche is spicy already is a bit of an understatement.

There are a number of high profile companies looking to gain the upper edge in what is probably one of the most profitable and promising new sectors to emerge within our industry over the past few years.

Those companies will be using the FIT Show to demonstrate to the thousands of visitors how their roof is better than the guys further down the hall, and how they can increase sales for the installation company.

The fact is that right now, there are a handful of companies with a set of superior roofs rising above the other roof companies in the market place. Over the coming years it is this group of superior products from a small set of companies that will progress further and eat up most of the market share.

I suspect feisty and very energetic stands from any company with a lantern roof to sell.

Aluminium bi-folds

Bi-folding doors are popular at the moment, just in case you failed to notice that. Kings of the bi-folds right now are the aluminium ones. They can be credited with the rise of the bi-fold in recent years, and remain the material of choice for most home owners considering them.

Because of their popularity, I expect that any company with an aluminium bi-folding will be eager to have five of your time. There are a lot of ali bi-fold products out there. Some established, some just coming on to the scene. But that conveyor belt of new products just keeps on coming. Seems like every month there is a new aluminium product to read about.

Eventually though, the dust will have to settle and out of that dust some main players will remain, with the weaker options falling by the wayside. I suspect that there could be a battle played out at the exhibition to convince visitors that their’s is the one they should be buying.

PVCu vs aluminium vs timber

There is a bigger battle going on right now, that we could see played out during the FIT Show, and that is the renewed struggle to gain a bigger foothold in the residential market by both the aluminium and timber sectors.

In recent years, both have started to make inrodes in the dominance of PVCu in the residential part of our market. PVCu is still top of the pile by some way, but the clear distance it once had has just become a little bit shorter in the past few years.

Home owner tastes have changed, and that is part of the reason for the swing back towards more traditional materials. A lot of the buying public are much more well informed, with some shunning PVCu for the slimmer sight lines of aluminium or the true traditional features of timber.

The PVCu market has responded, with the strong rise in timber alternative products. That said, the residential market is much more wide open between all material types. Installers have understood this and now at least half sell an alternative to PVCu, many choosing to go down the aluminium route.

It will be interesting to see how each material niche positions itself in relation to the residential market at the exhibition. This is a long term battle that will play out over years, and one we should all keep an eye on.

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