John Duffin, Managing Director Keylite Roof Windows is BMBI’s Expert for Roof Windows.
2018 ended more positively than it began as continued growth in quarter four erased the damage done by the Beast from the East in Q1. Excluding December, Q4 had an increasing sales run rate, resulting in strong roof window growth over the year.
National house builders recorded small growth in completions for the year, falling well behind forecasts made in 2017. In contrast, RMI continued strongly, enabling Keylite, for example, to finish the year with yet another year of double-digit growth on like-for-like sales. This seems to be a growing trend: while new housing supply fails to keep up with demand, RMI continues to flourish. For roof window manufacturers, this is a positive trend, especially in areas like London where space is at a premium and the main way to extend is moving upwards into the roof.
Increasingly, national house builders are seeking stock and supply commitments as ‘No Deal’ Brexit looms closer. Brexit-proofing plans are in place, but it remains to be seen what form Brexit takes, when it takes place, and what the real impact will be. ‘No Deal’ would be particularly difficult for the roof window industry, due to the significant cross-border sales and travel. Whether we have a ‘Deal’ or ‘No Deal’ the volume of almost-daily statements, debate and confusion emanating from parliament is sapping consumer and business confidence.
However, our outlook for 2019 is still for strong growth. Housing demand is high. A growing population, changing demographics and decades of under-building have left us short of living space. After the financial crisis of 2008 we saw the switch from ‘move’ to ‘improve’ where homeowners, unable to move, invested time and money in improving their living spaces. If this trend were to be reinforced by the outcome of Brexit, it should help fuel growth. This combination of new build and RMI projects will allow the roof window industry to push forward whatever the fallout from Brexit.
Loft convertors and merchants have seen growth in long life, high-performance white PVC roof windows, such as our Keylite Polar range, and new product launches will give consumers more reasons to buy roof windows in 2019.