Everyone knows that aluminium windows and doors are starting to make serious inrodes into to dominance of the residential PVCu sector. It’s been a stellar comeback and it only looks like the aluminium residential sector is going to get stronger and stronger.

In the last major industry report, produced by the team at Insight Data, we saw an indication as to the state of PVCu fabrication. If you’re fiercely aluminium, it made for good reading. Not so for fans of PVCu.

See the last Insight Data industry report

Steady decline

It’s not just me saying aluminium is on the rise. Take a look at this chart put together by Insight Data which shows the number of PVCu fabricators on a steady decline:

The decline from the recession years of 2008 to 2014 which this report was first published looks ominous. The sector just hasn’t been able to slam the breaks on the decline and I fully expect that when Insight Data releases their next industry report, based on 2015, we’ll be seeing that number drop below the 1500 mark.

You have to wonder then, is PVCu fabrication in crisis?

Fabricators vs average frames

Yes and no, would be the answer to the above question. Although the number of fabricators of PVCu are on the decline, as the caption on the chart above suggests, average frames are rising.

As each PVCu fabricator leaves the market, that business has to go somewhere. Other fabricators will pick up that new business as installers look for new suppliers. But we’re already deep into 2016, and we still haven’t seen the 2015 report yet. I would guess that in the past couple of years aluminium has begun to erode some of those average a little.

I expect though that when the next report comes out, the number of PVCu fabricators to drop, possibly quite sharply. Another factor to consider is that the small fabricators making less than 100 frames per week will be finding it becoming ever more expensive to produce and deliver a small number of frames. Especially now with currency pressures and price rises.

These are the sorts of companies who may be looking to be bought out, or even ditch the manufacturing altogether and look to turn their businesses into installation companies and buy in instead.

A sector never to recover

I would say that PVCu has had it’s best years. The industry is a much more diverse and varied place, with aluminium, timber and composite products all making progress and breaking up the status quo in the residential market.

The number of PVCu fabricators will continue to decline in the next few years. At the moment, I would say that there is at least a couple of hundred PVCu fabricators more than we need as an industry right now. Installers are looking to mix up their product portfolios which means they’ll be relying less on one established material, in this case PVCu.

Fabricators of PVCu have a choice to make I feel. Do they stick to what they know, expand the choice of PVCu products they offer to try and squeeze new business from where they can. Or do they diversify into aluminium, timber or composite products and try and attract brand new customers and tap into new revenue streams.

PVCu fabrication is at a crossroads right now, and the sector cannot wait too long to make a decision on it’s future direction.

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