Crystal comment: Q2 2018

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

The excellent start to quarter two generated very positive enquiry and order levels. Looking at Q2 2018 versus Q2 2017 enquiry levels were up 9% and order levels up 34%. Quarter by quarter performance was also very strong with enquiry levels 21% up on Q1 and order levels 43% up.

Such a positive outlook seems at odds with trading troubles elsewhere. At both ends of the High Street from Poundland to Marks and Spencer, businesses are hitting the headlines with profit warnings, CVAs, closures or performance reviews. The same applies to the DIY sector with news that Travis Perkins is reviewing the Wickes chain with lower profits predicted.

Changing buyer behaviour has been cited as a major factor in the retail sector’s fortunes with the rise of online shopping. Much has been made of the fear that people, tradesmen and homeowners, would come into store, research prices, then order online.

It’s not all gloom however, particularly if you change your business model to take account of the new way we buy. In many markets, and increasingly with home improvements, people are behaving differently. In the windows sector, people are researching online and then coming in-store to see and handle the product and ask a few critical questions before buying.

Merchants with trained knowledgeable staff, online configurators so ordering is simple and quick, and showrooms that show product to advantage are cleaning up.

This is a significant factor in the surge of builders’ merchants’ sales of bespoke PVC-U windows, doors and conservatories. Life becomes easier for merchants to sell when their choice, range, quality of product, service and way of selling matches how trade customers and homeowners increasingly want to buy.

We hope to see this approach to the market reflected in continuing positive order levels for the window sector.

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