A dip, a downturn, a recession or a slump, call it what you will, but where we are now is very much not where we were 12 months ago.
At the end of last year, it was clear circumstances were changing. So, at our own installations business, we made the decision to commit to attracting the very highest-end clients. We have always been at the higher end of the market in our area, but we knew what was coming down the road and we needed to act quickly to be in a position to continue to grow in 2022.
As a result of the changes we have made and are still making, we’re about 12% up on revenue compared to the same period last year. These are the products which are helping us do that.
It’s worth saying for the sake of clarity that in terms of the number of leads and sales, we’re actually a fair notch down from last year. Certain demographics have just stopped buying altogether. Hence our urgency to attract more of the wealthier bracket. The reason we’re up on last year is our average order value has risen dramatically due to the types of clients and projects we are picking up.
Many of our clients are choosing flush windows. For whatever reason, our local competitors seem to be ignoring flush windows on the whole, which presents to us a rather large niche which we’re filling quite nicely.
When I see clients at their home, or if they come to our showroom, so many tell me that they had not seen them before until now. Seems crazy to me to ignore a product that inspires a homeowner so easily. Radically different aesthetics offer a client a very different look compared to what they already have. Flush windows can transform the look of a home, and because of that fact, they are a very desirable product indeed.
In fact, flush windows are perhaps the only way to make Golden Oak and Rosewood look good! Made with timber-look joints and they actually look fantastic on the right house.
So far this year, I would estimate half of the windows we have sold have been flush, and have been entire house replacements. The type of clients this product attracts tends to be higher end and when there is a large renovation project underway and the client wants something to make sure their home stands out. Flush windows certainly do that.
Spitfire aluminium entrance doors
I really do like these a lot. We are currently in the process of creating a dedicated Spitfire showroom which is due to be completed in around 6-8 weeks, maybe less.
We have sold some of these doors already, and we have more in the pipeline. But I really do regard them as the best aluminium entrance doors in Europe.
They have three ranges: S200, S500 and my personal favourite, the S700 pivot range. I have sold S200s and a pivot so far. I am trying to complete the set with an S500 range soon!
At the start of the year, we began to speak with Spitfire about adding their range to ours, and it became clear that if we are to achieve our three-year expansion plans, these doors had to be part of that plan.
The build quality is unreal. I have not seen anything else like it. The range of designs and custom details is on another level, especially when you get to the S500 and pivot ranges. When it comes to U-values these things are future-proofed. There are the smaller details as well which all combine to create the Bugatti of doors, such as their range of biometric options, surface finishes, ridiculously thick triple glazing, unique hinges etc. If you have a client that is building their own home or spending a hell of a lot of money renovating it, these are the doors that are going to take you to another level.
There is some planning and thought that needs to go into it before selling. Things like delivery and offloading. These doors are insanely heavy due to the build quality. It’s not some PVCu-type door which you can throw in. You’ll likely need to invest in some lifting gear to make the task easier. But, the effort is worth it.
This is a huge growth area across the entire sector, and in a recent article, I explored the idea that it could do some serious damage to the dominance of PVCu in the residential market.
I have to admit that in previous years we had made some attempts to get fully into aluminium, but had not maxed out the potential. At the start of 2022, we made a clear move towards aluminium as we knew that it was the dominant material in self-build and new-build projects, and higher-end clients would not entertain PVCu for million-pound homes.
We were right to do so. The amount of aluminium we are doing is growing swiftly and is a mix of windows, bi-folds and sliders. We’re also building a dedicated aluminium design centre at our show site to be able to demonstrate the full range that is available. We have also added the Origin aluminium internal door to our range and we expect that to be especially popular in the years to come.
In three years’ time, we anticipate that aluminium could make up more than a quarter of our business done in a year, perhaps as much as a third.
Lanterns and flat roof lights
As part of the aluminium product portfolio, we have just had a lantern and a flat glass roof light installed by Vitrine Aluminium on the roof above the Spitfire showroom.
There are endless flat roof extensions in our local area, which means there is untapped potential to exploit. Now we have these installed, we intend to make a significant effort to push these two products.
The advantages are clear to see. Installation can take only a few hours. The products themselves are relatively inexpensive, especially when you compared it to a whole new conservatory roof or flat roof. They are a great way to let natural daylight flood in vertically, and they create great views when you’re underneath them.
We fully believe these are going to grow in popularity in the years to come and we want to be able to make the most of that.
We’re sensitive to the fact that not everyone has aluminium entrance door budgets. But we do know that demand for aluminium or products that look like aluminium is only going to grow in the years to come.
So we have had an Endurance Avantal range composite door installed in our showroom, alongside their other doors which we continue to sell plenty of. I will be posting a review of the Avantal door next week.
The skins, the aluminium cassettes, the stainless steel hardware and modern designs all combine together very well to give clients the effect of aluminium, but within a composite door budget. Whilst we are aiming very specifically at higher-end clients, we know that there is going to remain a very high demand for composite doors, and there will be a growing market for composites that take inspiration from the aluminium market.
Above represents just some of the higher-end products we are pushing more of in order to attract the demographics that will remain resilient in the face of the oncoming recession. Our wider portfolio offers something for absolutely everyone, but we have to remain realistic in our predictions as to where the opportunities are going to lie in the years to come, and it most certainly is at the higher end of the market.
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