John Duffin, Managing Director Keylite Roof Windows is BMBI’s Expert for Roof Windows.
Sales of roof windows in the first three months of 2018 began strongly, despite being affected by March’s extreme weather difficulties. We’re confident that the year will continue to perform well driven by underlying strong demand, despite many factors causing stresses on the market.
Industry reports on the quarter are more negative than we have experienced. The CIPS/HIS Markit UK Construction PMI reported a fall to 47.0 in March, down from 51.4 in February, mostly as a result of the extreme weather. This was the fastest drop in new orders since July 2016 and the first time in six months that the index fell below the ‘no change’ score of 50. Roof windows were not as badly affected as the industry in general and we have made good progress in replacing lost time.
There is a fear that it was not just the weather that contributed to a weak first quarter performance. With high street spending falling and wage erosion caused by low or no increases, merchants must be hoping that RMI activity – the core of the roof window market – will stay positive.
Looking to those positives, the industry must take heart from the fact that low interest rates continue – at least for a while. The industry is hoping that these conditions will actually boost RMI – with more families deciding to ‘improve not move’ as the means to meeting their housing needs.
The looming pressures of Brexit and its effect on currency continues to make its presence felt in UK pockets. However, as manufacturers we must keep our heads down and continue to keep providing our merchant customers with quality products to meet consumers’ needs.
The trend towards white PVC roof windows and innovative products to suit busy lifestyles continues. As long as we can succeed in meeting these needs, we believe the roof window industry will continue to grow despite external pressure.