One of the biggest new sectors to emerge in the last decade in the UK glazing market has been the conservatory refurbishment market. This is a new sector which is focused on refurbishing or replacing the country’s existing stock of first generation conservatories, predominantly in PVCu.
It is estimated that there is around 3 million first generation conservatories that are due to be replaced. Most of which are the typical conservatory we can all easily imagine. White frames, polycarbonate roof and a dwarf wall. All get too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. All are ripe for replacing.
However whilst it’s perfectly right and proper to get excited about this new market opportunity, we must not forget a much larger market. The new glazed extension market.
A market ten times the size
Whilst there might be three million old conservatories to replace, there are over 30 million households in the UK, with the vast majority lacking a glazed extension of any kind. I sense we might have taken the eye of the ball for this part of the market, while we got to grips with the new refurbishment market and the potential that lies there.
There is huge potential in the new installation part of the market. And the market conditions are perfect for an uplift in this part of the market. Mortgage approvals are way off their highs from years ago, which means some who were looking to move are now staying put, spending money on renovating and expand their existing homes. Disposable income is also at a high, if you believe recent reports, which is a good thing from the point of view of big ticket item purchases. The finance market is also still healthy, which means if home owners want to borrow to help pay for a glazed extension, they can.
I believe that were about to go through another phase of “don’t move, improve”. With home owners choosing to stay put for one reason or another. This generally always leads to spending on home improvement products, like windows and doors, and in this case, glazed extensions. With so many millions of homes without an existing conservatory or glazed extension, this represents a huge opportunity for installers and fabricators alike.
Of course the term ‘conservatory’ doesn’t really apply any more. The sales of traditional white plastic boxes on the back of houses are falling sharply every year. Products like solid and glass roofs, lantern roofs, Loggia columns, Cornice gutters, pilasters and plinths, bi-folding doors and so on have completely transformed the market. ‘Glazed extension’ is really the only appropriate term for what the industry is installing on to people’s homes now. Sales of what you could call glazed extensions are rising each year.
And it’s because of this change in products that we have seen renewed strength in a part of the market that many feared would be in terminal decline, never to recover.
I wrote yesterday about how the industry, particularly installers and fabricators, should be looking to become more agile and proactive in the face of home grown and global economic bumps in the road. By attacking the new-build glazed extension market, this is one way in which this could be achieved.
We have an updated set of products in which to inspire home owners into bettering their homes, expanding their homes. It could be argued that had the 2008 recession not happened, it may not have kicked our stagnant industry into reinventing itself. To produce and deliver a range of new solutions that installers could get excited about, and in turn sell that excitement to the home owner. Perhaps if this had not occurred, we would be ill-prepared now to take advantage of the opportunity that lies ahead of us.
It’s time to make hay. Yes prices are rising, be it because of the pound or long squeezed margins that suppliers now need to recover. But it won’t be enough to derail home owners on mass revamping their existing tired conservatory, or building a brand new glazed extension should they decide to stay where they are. Lets not waste this great opportunity.