Crystal Direct comment: Q1 2016

Steve Halford, Group Managing Director Crystal Direct is BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors.

Builders’ merchants’ sales of PVC-U windows and doors are growing explosively fast. Starting from a small base of merchants selling bespoke PVC-U in 2014, the number of merchants selling it grew substantially in 2015. Sales to builders in the first three months of this year are around 10 times sales in the first quarter of 2015.

Why this explosive growth?

When builders discovered the benefits of PVC-U windows and doors they switched rapidly from timber but they had to buy PVC-U windows from window manufacturers because builders’ merchants didn’t sell bespoke PVC-U. Merchants used to sell timber windows in stock sizes, like other products, but PVC-U is a bespoke business and it was difficult for merchants to sell bespoke. So builders went elsewhere. Merchants also lost the sales of other products they bought with windows and doors.

With a service and support that’s dedicated to make it easy for builders to buy a full range of colours, sizes, designs and styles of bespoke windows and doors at their branch, builders’ merchants are rapidly taking back their lost market. Builders’ sales of PVC-U windows, doors & conservatories are also growing fast.

Making it possible and overcoming the fear of bespoke means closing the skills gap with training and web-based user friendly solutions. Intuitive, secure, configurator software enables builders and builders’ merchant counter staff to quickly and easily select the size, style, hardware and colour of the window they want at the prices and terms they pay, while it prevents them ordering impossible configurations. It means providing quality products delivered in a few days, direct to the builder – another benefit to merchants as they need no specialist logistics for safe and secure transportation.

Starting with independent and regional merchant chains, the national merchants have followed and are now throwing their weight behind the bespoke PVC-U market. We expect further fast growth.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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