We’re now half way through the year. The longest day is behind us, the World Cup is nearly at and end, the kids are about to kick off their six week holiday break. Brexit edges ever closer and in an ever more chaotic manner. I get married in less than three weeks!
Did we really think this year would actually go this quickly?
As we start to look towards the second half of the year, I want to take a brief look back at the year, judge how I thought the year has been so far on the business activity front, show you the top 5 most read posts published so far, and of course how this website did during the course of the first six months of 2018.
Brisk business across the board
If I was to frame the first six months of business activity, at least from the perspective of our own family run business, then I would say we are about where we wanted to be at this stage of the year.
We set ourselves sales targets roughly 20% higher than last year, and more or less we are about there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been a smooth and level path. We have had very busy periods where we have been unable to cope, mixed with dips which have allowed us to catch a breath. We have been able to keep our fitting crews busy and as reps we have always found ourselves with quotes on our desks ready to go.
As we hit June though, we did see a noticeable drop in business activity. We think it’s most likely to do with the weather and the World Cup. Last time the tournament came around we noticed the same thing. However, as we are coming to the end of it, I have seen a pick up again. Funny how big sporting events like this can cause a blip in an industry like ours. Nevertheless, on the whole the first half has been pretty good to us.
I get a similar feeling when speaking to my various contacts throughout the first half, be it installers, fabricators or systems companies. Most have reported healthy business activity, with the odd dip here and there in the mix. The doomsday business scenario has yet to materialise.
That being said, I do see signs that Brexit uncertainty has started to take a real effect on our sector. Currency volatility is one of the main reasons for the regular price increases many of us have been hit with. Home owners are perhaps becoming a little more hesitant to press the spending buttons, maybe just waiting to see what is round the corner before deciding to spend their thousands. We saw signs of that in the home owners we have dealt with, and we expect to see more hesitation as the end of the year approaches and we creep ever closer to Brexit.
As we head further into July and then into August, I expect the usual seasonal slow down as families go away on their holidays. This could be further impacted depending on how England do. Pubs, bars and restaurants are all doing very well right now, but big ticket items, like windows and doors, drop down the priority list at the same time. So the start to H2 could be a bit on the quiet side for many.
The biggest stories
The lists further down this article will cover this very well, but there were one of two major stories that punctuated the first half of this year. The main one being the troubles at national installers SafeStyle UK.
It has been known for a while that the national retailers of windows and doors have been having a tough time of it of late. Up until the end of 2017 I think many thought of SafeStyle as one of the safer of the big three. Then the profit warnings came, and then their share price took a nosedive. Cash reserves were starting to be eaten up as money was pumped in to help pay for structural changes. Then, just as the “challenging trading conditions” were stepping up a gear, up stepped SafeGlaze UK to disrupt their market share even more. In their profit warnings and trading updates they began to mention them, not by name, but everyone knew who they were talking about.
People in senior positions came and went. It didn’t look good for the company at one point. Then they decided to launch a legal complaint against SafeGlaze UK. That may have put the breaks on the rot for a little while, and we await to see the outcome of the courts on their filings. As of now, SafeStyle’s share price stands at under 50p per share. It was once over 300p. The decline has been steadier of late, certainly less dramatic. But that psychologically important 50p barrier has been broken. A positive outcome from the courts might help that price recover, but there remains more fundamental issues to rectify if the business is to make a genuine recovery.
There have been acquisitions, there have been sales, there have been personnel changes. It’s been a busy first six months on the news front, but the SafeStyle saga has easily been the leading ongoing story so far this year. It doesn’t look set to come to an end any time soon either.
How DGB did
I set myself some pretty high targets for this year on the back of some very good numbers in 2017. The first half of this year has set me up nicely to make sure I get to those targets with time to spare. This is my DGB H1 report:
Traffic took it’s usual natural slowdown in June, but that didn’t stop the first half of the year ending with all major metrics well ahead of time to reach their yearly goals. Almost 40%+ growth across all three major metrics is something that gives me great pride, knowing the work I put into this continues to pay off.
The device split was interesting, with just over 15% browsing DGB on tablets, with mobile and desktop almost equally split between the remaining traffic. This does show a great deal of importance for websites to be both mobile and desktop compatible. I still see so many out there, glazing industry ones specifically, that are not.
The gender split remains pretty much as normal. I wrote a week or so ago about the need to encourage more women to enter the window and door industry, with the aim to help relieve some of the pressure we are all under due to the skills crisis. You can catch up on that article by clicking here.
On the social media front, traffic from Linkedin really is snowballing. Twitter remains at the top of the pile with a decent gap, but my audience on Linkedin grows daily, and may soon become the main source of traffic from social media, taking over from Twitter before long. Facebook remains in third, with that platform being less useful on the B2B front.
Also very happy with 51 days where DGB had over 1000+ page views. These sorts of days are vital to make sure site growth continues strongly and I hit my yearly targets as early as possible. To get my daily page views record in the first half of this year was cool too.
Top 5 most read posts in H1
These are the top 5 most read posts published in the first half of this year. They follow a theme…
I will continue to cover this ongoing situation over the next 6 months, so I expect this list at the end of the year to read very similar!
A look ahead to H2
I fully expect Brexit nerves to set in as we approach the end of the year. You can guarantee the media will go into overdrive on the hype machine, which will only serve to increase uncertainty for home owners and their spending plans. This may hit us hard come the year end, which may also lead to a quiet start to 2019. It would be wise to make hay now and put into place plans should things go south by the end of the year.
In this next half I shall be looking ahead to the 2019 FIT Show, covering their PR as well as writing my own articles on what I want to see from the exhibition, as well as my plans for coverage of the event.
Safestyle will of course be in the headlines no doubt, and I shall continue to cover that story on DGB as closely as possible.
The M&A sector has gone a tad quiet for one reason or another, and I don’t see any imminent deals in the works, at least non that I have been made aware of. Will H2 kick into gear on that front? I suspect not, but nothing is guaranteed.
Either way, there will be plenty to talk about in UK fenestration in the next 6 months we can be sure of that!
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