There is no doubting that strength of the composite door market. From less than 20% of door sales in 2007 to an estimated 50%+ of door sales by 2018 (Palmer Market Research) this part of our industry is undergoing growth like no other. D&G Analysts forecast that installed value will reach an impressive £439m by 2018.

Most research houses believe that between 2016 and 2020 composite doors will experience solid growth. I personally believe that rather than a five year scale, the composite door market will grow rapidly over the next ten years or so. After that though, things might start to get a bit tricky.

Nothing to stop it’s growth

Short of economic disaster, I see very little slowing the growth of the composite door market. Even if the UK economy started to slow down a bit and costs rise, it probably won’t be enough to stop people buying a new entrance door. It’s not as big a cost as a house full of windows and doors, and it’s used every day. This will always be a necessary purchase for home owners.

It’s path forwards for the next decade looks set to me. No other product right now comes close to knocking it off it’s front running position in this part of the market. PVCu panel doors will continue drift into an eventual death. Timber doors will have it’s niche but not come close to the same level of growth. Aluminium doors will most likely do the same.

The trick is though is to stay relevant and diverse. There are a lot of composite door manufacturers cashing in right now in the growth of the market, looking to make hay while the sun is shining. But manufacturers need to differentiate from their competitors in order to installers unique selling points. There’s no doubt that the market place is becoming crowded, so the ability to be different from one manufacturer to another is perhaps now the most important point of all.

If installers start to find there is little difference between the manufacturers, in terms of quality, options, technology and design, it becomes about price. Which is dangerous. Installers may look to trim costs, which means going to the cheaper suppliers, if they believe they will get the same standards of service and quality. A lot of suppliers may struggle to justify costs if there are no genuine USPs left between. That is why it is important that all composite door manufacturers continue to innovate and change.

But this isn’t the only risk to their long term outlook.

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Saturation point

There will come a time where if growth continues at this pace for the next five to ten years, that saturation point will not be far away.

Right now there is some way to go. You can see that in the predicted growth figures if you look at the various entrance door market reports. And many composite door manufacturers will boast that their figures continue to get better every year. And it’s good news for the hardware suppliers as the more doors sold, the more letter boxes, handles, knockers and cylinders are sold too.

The key area though for spotting a saturation level will be the hardware companies. By 2020 and beyond the composite door market will represent a large portion of their revenues. If in ten years time we see some hardware companies, specifically the ones with strong composite door manufacturer relationships, start to slow in growth figures, it could be a sign that the composite door market is slowing.

It’s a scenario that we have to think about. The composite door market, as with any other kind of market in the world, will begin to slow at some point as the market becomes saturated. Millions of homes will have a composite door. The better quality ones won’t need replacing for a while after. Innovation may reach a ceiling. There are only so many homes, and short of making doors in such a way as they fail at around the 15 year mark, we have to anticipate a slow down.

This will pose a problem. The composite door market at this point will become even more crowded than it is right now. We could see a number of new suppliers pop up here and there within the next ten years, hoping to get a slice of the seemingly growing pie. It will become ultra-competitive and a two-tiered quality and price driven industry could emerge. Then we’re going to hit a wall. That point where home owner demand begins to drop thanks to market saturation and a decreasing need for new composite doors.

The challenge then turns to survival. The strongest will survive, those who have sold their product profitably and maintained a loyal installer base. The weakest, often youngest will go. Those who have sold on price, least profitably, and have an installer base willing to go elsewhere should things head south. There will be some who are taken over by bigger competition. Consolidation will be the theme as the industry gets to grips with slowing demand.

Right now, it seems odd to be thinking that far ahead, with forecasts so strong. But these years, whilst the growth is good, is exactly the time to be building strong foundations for when that growth tails off and market saturation sets in.

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