Much of the industry has seen some level of price increases in the past few months. Every supplier that has raised their prices has blamed Brexit. Convenient, but it has some truth in it.

The vote to leave has caused the value of Sterling to drop by 18%. It was more. It has recovered a few percentage points in recent weeks. It has led however to currency pressures on many of our industry’s suppliers as many rely on their products to be made and imported from overseas. So as their costs have gone up, so have costs to installers.

It doesn’t appear to have had any sort of negative impact as of yet. Which is obviously good news. But whilst Sterling remains at the level it is, I believe that there is a growing argument for some of our industry’s manufacturers to consider bringing certain parts of their business back home. Namely, manufacturing.

Boosts to be gained

In general, manufacturing in the UK has been in boom mode since the EU Referendum and despite the fall in Sterling. In fact when it comes to foreign investment and exports, we’re doing very well indeed. There is an appetite and lots of room for expansion when it comes to UK manufacturing. Against this back drop, I think there is a positive opportunity for UK glazing manufacturers who currently have some of their products made overseas made back here.

Some composite door slabs. Window and door hardware. Fixings. Just a few examples of some of the products that are made for our industry, but made in other countries. The fall in Sterling has made these products more expensive. In some cases by quite a lot. So is it now time to consider if these products, and others, could be made here in the UK for the same unit cost, or less, and at a better quality?

When it comes to build quality, the UK is still known as one of the world’s leaders in manufacturing. I think we all believe that too. So self-belief and confidence is a given. But think about the jobs that would be created within UK glazing if we started to make more of what we use here. Local economies would be boosted, UK glazing sector growth would be boosted.

There isn’t just an economical benefit. Think about the endless problems with finish quality our industry has been plagued with when it comes to letter plates, handles, hinges etc. Quite often, the blame has been laid at cheap foreign manufacturing processes. Well, thanks to the drop in Sterling, those processes aren’t that cheap any more. In fact, they’re about 18% less cheap. That’s not an insignificant number. So I think it is time to examine whether our door hardware can be made for the same, if not less, here, and with reliable British quality. I personally wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for British made door handles if it meant they weren’t going to pit in two seconds.

DGB Business

No protectionism

Right now, there is a big push, not just in our industry, but countrywide, to boost all sorts of sectors across our economy, especially manufacturing and construction. UK glazing fits right into those sectors, and a boost for those is a boost for us.

But this isn’t protectionism. There will always be areas of UK glazing that will rely on products important to make our sector work. That’s globalisation and it will never be rolled back, whether you agree with it or not. In fact, had Brexit never happened, had Sterling never dropped, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this post.

It is only because of the events of the past few months that I believe an opportunity has presented itself. The chance for UK glazing suppliers to revisit their supply sources and explore the potential benefits of moving production back to the UK for the mutual benefit of them, their customers, their local economy and the jobs market.

What are your thoughts? Is the drop in Sterling a chance to create more jobs, wealth and better products here for the same unit costs? Or is the drop in Sterling only temporary, will it recover and this potential chance dissipate in time? All comments welcome via the section below.

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