Our sector, like others, always looks for new products and niches where we think there could be major potential for growth. Whilst it’s always exciting to be on the lookout for something new, it’s easy to forget what is already available and what existing products still have huge potential.
For me, this is where integral blinds come in. These have been some of the biggest innovations in the IGU space over the past couple of decades, and the way I see it, there is bags of room left for it to grow.
Integral blinds in every home?
Perhaps that’s a bit of an ask, considering how many homes there are in the UK. But the 32m+ homes that are out there are all potential targets. Many will be changing their windows over the next ten years, which means there is an opportunity for installers to upsell their offering to clients and include integral blinds in key areas of the home.
For example, at our place we sell a lot of integral blinds that go into bi-folding doors, bathroom windows, kitchen windows, stable doors and other areas that require privacy such as landing windows that are overlooked by neighbours.
The benefits are clear and simple to understand. No cleaning. No one likes cleaning blinds. It’s about one of the most tedious, dull jobs ever to be done. Obviously, integral blinds within the IGU cut that out. There’s no drilling into frames or walls to fit external blinds, removing damage. There are medical benefits too. For homes that have to remain as clean and hygienic as possible, integral blinds are a great way to provide privacy without adding something that could gather dust and germs.
They do also have a wow factor. They look very neat and clean inside the IGU, but it’s the operation, the movement of the blind up and down which adds a degree of class to a window or door. Especially the motorized and solar-powered versions. I have the W-Smart integral blinds from Morley Glass in my new aluminium bi-folds and they’re pretty cool. They have touch-activated battery packs which control their closing and lifting, or you can programme them to a remote and control them that way. The solar panels are located in the top corners. I will post a full review on those in an article soon. But their action moving upwards at the touch of a button, ditching cords or magnetic lifters, it’s really slick. It certainly grabs people’s attention when they see it.
Huge growth market
Although integral blinds have been around for a while, I still see this as a major area of growth within the wider fenestration sector. First, for the reasons stated above. They’re a good product with plenty of benefits. Second, they’re easily accessible. Major players in the market like Morley Glass already have a very wide reach across the UK, with room to expand their network in the years to come. Fabricators and installers can easily add integral blinds to their product portfolios.
They are a simple upsell for installers too. Displayed in a showroom in some sample windows or bi-folds, or demonstrated online through videos and PDF brochures, these are products that grab people’s attention. As it did with a client I showed around the showroom today. After a quick demonstration as to how they work and their benefits, they are now putting the blinds in their new aluminium bi-folding doors and stable door that is going into the rear entrance. A great product that is easy to sell.
Over the next few years, this is a product group that I think more of the industry needs to take advantage of. We’re going to be looking for ways to sustain business levels at this higher tier after experiencing a strong bounce-back over the last 12-15 months. That will mean finding ways to sell more and increase average order values. Integral blinds are a great way to do it.
Not that this sector isn’t doing well already. Sales of integral blinds have been rising at a strong and steady pace for years. But given the number of homes in the UK and various applications integral blinds can be used for, including in commercial settings too, it appears to me that there is major untapped potential in this corner of the market and we need to be building on the success of integral blinds in the coming months and years.
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