If there was a word to describe our industry over the past five years it would be “diversity”. Through necessity and turbulent economic climates, our industry has had to evolve and diversify in order to create new streams of revenues.
One of these new streams has been aluminium. Thanks to a shift in consumer demand, installation, fabrication and systems parts of our sector has seen a remarkable rise in the aluminium business. Perhaps not for over forty years have we seen so many aluminium windows and doors being installed to residential properties.
It has resulted in installers greatly diversifying their product portfolios and fabricators having to adapt to meet this new demand. Not all fabricators have yet done so, and given the weakening state of pure PVCu fabrication, now is very much the time to make the move.
Expand for long term growth
Right now, I don’t think anyone can deny that pure PVCu fabrication is in decline. The number of PVCu fabricators is on the slide, and has been for a number of years. Changing home owner tastes and demands have been the main cause.
Some fabricators have been quick to see the change, and adapted a while ago. The number of fabricators producing PVCu and aluminium windows and doors has risen steadily for a number of years. Some have remained single material fabricators. Long term, this isn’t going to produce positive results.
Fabricators who are currently only producing PVCu windows and doors should be making the transition to dual-materials as we speak. The spike in interest in aluminium and timber too, isn’t a temporary one. Home owner demands have shifted for the long term, and you can see evidence of that by looking at how much the installer landscape has changed in the past five years or so.
There are some PVCu-only fabricators experiencing growth, but that is new business being captured as others exit the market and remaining market share is eaten up. This isn’t long term growth, merely capturing short term opportunities.
Home owner demand for aluminium windows and doors looks set to be here with us for a very long time, so it makes good business sense for PVCu fabricators to add an aluminium option to help their installers and therefore themselves make the most of the renaissance in the residential aluminium sector.
Move now or risk going out of business
With Brexit bringing the business challenges that it inevitably will, it’s important that the PVCu fabricators in our industry move to diversify their operations now.
Their own part of the market is tricky right now. Raw material price increases have been plenty and significant, eating into profit margins. Future price rises cannot be ruled out. PVCu fabrication is in decline. Some are leaving the market altogether and others are being bought or merged. The remaining need to adapt now.
Despite difficulties, there remains lots of profitable new business to be had. But it’s in the aluminium market. So PVCu fabricators should be looking to bring an aluminium system on board so their installers can look to take advantage of the upturn in the part of the market. If they don’t then the risk are massive. Big enough to send some companies already struggling, under.
Picking the right system
It’s always exciting bringing a new product line on board and offering it to installers. The tricky part is finding the right one to suit the client base.
With aluminium, just as with PVCu, there are varying qualities. A PVCu fabricator looking at expanding their offering needs to look closely at what aluminium system would suit their clients best. If they’re a fabricator with high-end installers, budget aluminium systems aren’t going to be an attractive opposition. Something like Reynaers, an aluminium product at the very highest end of the market might do the trick.
Either way, PVCu fabricators need to be looking to evolve now. Being a single material supplier can be considered a bit old fashioned and out of date. And with market conditions becoming even more competitive and diverse, time is something that many may not have.
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