Steve Halford, Group Managing Director Crystal Direct is BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors.
Builders’ merchants’ fourth quarter sales of PVC windows and doors were up 3% on Q3, consolidating strong growth on the previous year: Q4 was a hefty 68% up on Q4 2015.
Larger regional merchants’ sales in particular accelerated at a faster rate than earlier in the year, driven mainly by an increase in awareness and confidence among their small to medium sized builder customers. There was also a noticeable increase in submissions of ‘plans requiring take-off’ from merchants, split approximately 60/40 between full new build and extensions.
Enquiry levels surged 22% in Q4 compared with Q3, as builders’ merchants focus increasingly on the opportunity to win back lost window and door sales to builders who already buy most of their building materials from them. Having seen the potential size of the PVC window and door business to be recovered, and experienced success at recovering sales lost when builders, large and small, had gone direct to window manufacturers, merchants are getting stuck in to this obvious growth market.
Their builder customers had gone elsewhere because their builders’ merchant suppliers didn’t supply PVC windows and doors. Now, not only can they supply them, but the range, quality, colours and speed of service is better than they are getting, and merchants are making it easy to return.
At branch level, merchant requests for additional training are growing. Having found that product specific training delivers a noticeable impact on results, requests are running at their highest levels.
Requests for sample products & full showroom developments are also growing. Simple undifferentiated window and doors may sell adequately without showroom support, but as with kitchens and bathrooms, differentiated PVC windows and doors in a wide range of styles, colours and hardware sell better when builders and their customers can see the full range and choice with appropriate displays and illustrations, and can discuss their needs with personnel who know the products. ‘High ticket’ value home improvements such as kitchens and bathrooms, and PVC windows and doors warrant more engaging customer experiences, and sell proportionately more when they are provided.