As we head into the new working year, much of the industry will be looking at where the most lucrative growth areas are going to be. It’s going to be a tricky year, but there are still plenty of areas of our industry that show solid growth potential throughout this year. So, these are my top 5 picks for the hottest growth sectors in the glazing industry for 2017. In my own opinion of course. I could be wrong.

1. Residential aluminium

For me, this could be one of the hottest areas in the wider glazing sector in the coming year, despite Brexit, a lower value for Sterling and creeping inflation. The renaissance in the residential aluminium sector, specifically bi-folding doors, has been astounding. Despite it being at the highest end of the market in terms of monetary value, it hasn’t put home owners, architects and self-builders off from investing in our new breed of aluminium.

I don’t expect that to change in 2017. In fact I believe it will grow only stronger. As the new positive word about aluminium gets about through the general public, as more and more home owners become inclined to build there own home, as architects and architectural media continues to promote it’s use, residential aluminium will prove a popular choice in 2017.

It’s something installers and fabricators who have really only stuck to one type of material should be seriously considering. Fabricators who are looking to grow and diversify need to be looking to add an aluminium system to their wider product portfolio. Installers who are yet to dip their toes into the world of aluminium need to buck up and start selling it. The more installers that get on board the bandwagon, the harder it is going to be to get any sort of local significant market share.

Get on it. Now!

2. Composite doors

This is the fenestration sector that keeps on giving. Year after year, the composite door sector only seems to become bigger, stronger, more influential and more profitable.

There appears to be no stopping the composite door bandwagon from rolling on, and I see no reason why that should change in 2017. Most installers have a composite door product within their portfolio, but it’s home owners that will drive a lot of the growth this year. Even if things get a little tight, a new entrance door is a vital part of the home, and most home owners place a great deal of importance on a secure, stylish new door. Even if other home improvement projects go to the side lines, new entrance doors will remain on that list of things to do this year. And chances are it will be a composite door.

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3. Sash windows

Like a big cat stalking up on it’s prey. The sash window market has been quietly growing, year after year, stealing more and more market share away from the casement market as home owners yearn for something much more traditional, but made in a modern material.

During 2017, I think it is possible we’ll see quite a big jump in the amount of sash window business done. Be it in PVCu, timber or aluminium, the drive from home owners who want traditional class will mean lead levels and sales should increase by quite a bit.

It won’t be an easy sale though. Generally, sash window costs are quite a bit more than casement windows. So the USPs will have to be sold right by installers. Fabricators will have to be on the money when it comes to quality manufacturing, delivery times and customer service to installers. Made, sold and installed well, there is nothing that beats a sash window in a traditional property. Installers and fabricators could and should be cashing in on this new-found popularity this year.

4. Custom colour

Colour customized windows and doors were popular last year. They may be even more popular this year.

Windows and doors sprayed in custom colours are becoming cheaper, more readily available and easier to facilitate for a lot more installers and fabricators. More and more home owners too want their own windows and doors designed down to smallest details, that means their choice on colour too.

For fabricators, they cannot stock every single RAL as a foil. So they have a choice, as do installers. Invest in spraying tech, or use the services of a company like Kolorseal who provide the spraying service. They’re a dedicated spraying company to our industry, experts in what they do. Reasonably priced, reliable deliveries and a very wide range of colours, not just restricted to RAL and Farrow & Ball ranges, many others too.

It is a service like this which fabricators should be tapping into to make the most of the growing demand from home owners for windows and doors designed in their own bespoke colour.

5. Lantern and solid roofs

Last but certainly not least is the lantern and solid roof markets. After the sale of Roof-Maker Ltd at the end of last year, the value of the companies in this increasingly competitive, almost savage sector have shot up. As far as the acquisition market goes, I imagine a few lantern and solid roof manufacturers might be rethinking their long term plans.

But that’s not the reason lantern roofs are in this list. The fact that there are tens of million of homes with space for new glazed extensions. The fact there are still million of older generation conservatories ripe for refurbishment. The fact there are million of flat roofs that are ideal for transformation. Those are the reasons that the lantern and solid roof market is on this list.

During 2016, this growing market showed strong strength and energy, and some very high class installations. As long as that continues, and home owner demand remains strong for this transformative product, then we can expect the lantern and solid roof market to bring the spoils for the fabricators and installers who choose to make the most of the good times ahead for this part of our industry.

Notable mentions

Our industry is obviously much more diverse than the above. But this is a top 5 list, and these are just five areas that I have cherry picked based on last year’s evidence and positivity heading on into this new year. However, these are some other areas that should bring prosperity to our industry this year too:

  • outdoor living i.e. verandahs, pergolas etc – this is a newly emerging market within fenestration. However, based on the energy around this product type last year, and the sounds coming out of a number of suppliers, I expect this emerging market to start to make a mark this year.
  • integral blinds – certainly a growing market, you only need to look at Morley Glass’ recent factory move, which incidentally makes them the biggest ScreenLine® integral blinds manufacturers in the world, to see how the overall sector is performing. Expect good things from this part of our world this year.
  • triple glazing – talk about a slow burner. There is still way too many points to argue against triple glazing. However, it’s here, and companies want to sell it. Plus, the pricing point is coming down all the time. Expect sales of triple glazing to rise in 2017.
  • hybrids – trust me, this market is coming. Timber/aluminium systems may start to gain some real traction this year. They might not explode in a composite door kind of way, but if we start to see some installations being proudly displayed on social media with increasing frequency, then we know it’s starting to take a foothold.

There are going to be many reports, predictions and doom-mongers this year. Brexit will remain in the headlines permanently. Media will shove their agendas down our throats and screens. However, in all sectors, including ours, there will always be new and profitable opportunities, the ones above are where I think they might be this year. It’s time to get out heads down and make the very best of what is out there.

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