Keylite Roof Windows Comment: Q1 2020

John Duffin, Director Keylite Roof Windows is BMBI’s Expert for Roof Windows.

Quarter 1 demand for roof windows was sluggish, but it seems irrelevant now as we face the biggest challenge our industry has seen in decades.

Roof window manufacturers saw a considerable drop in volume from mid-March until end of April. Only online sales saw real growth as “White Van Man” looked outside their usual supply chain to get materials to finish jobs and keep themselves in work.

Keylite and other Roof Window Manufacturers remained open with warehouse skeleton staff, and SOP, Technical and Aftersales working from home. The last seven weeks gave us time to implement a new Group wide code of conduct and safe operating procedures so our great staff can restart safely and securely.

Roof window manufacturers have the added complication of working to international guidelines which vary as much as our own regional governments, giving staff in Europe different advice and support, and managing logistics across international borders.

Beyond the pandemic, 2020 will be about getting through, and positioning for better times, which unfortunately are 12 months away. I have conflicting thoughts on the RMI sector in 2020. Uncertainty surrounding job retention and the domestic and global economy will weigh on consumer confidence. Homeowners may put off extensions or renovations, and a stalled housing market (what will happen to house prices?) may suggest moving not improving. With question marks over foreign holidays, will homeowners spend on loft conversions instead? I suspect the answer is somewhere in the middle. Where people have the disposable income and spare time at home, we’ll see growth in smaller-ticket improvements such as painting decorating and gardening/landscaping.

As Government tries to get us out of lockdown and back building, housebuilding will be a slow burner. It will be based on completing units sold pre-COVID, and completing units under construction, before a full return based on sales volumes.

Finally, regardless of how you think the government handled this crisis, let’s ensure they remember NHS and other essential workers who put themselves at risk to ensure we got through! Applauding them is a great show of appreciation… but it doesn’t put food on their tables or buy them homes!

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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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