Jim Blanthorne Managing Director of Keylite Roof Windows is BMBI’s Expert for Roof Windows.
The year 2020 must go down as one of the most uncertain years of all time and the uncertainty continued right up to the wire in Q4, with Brexit and Covid competing to be the most disruptive. However, while Brexit and Covid related angst ruled the headlines, the UK construction and RMI sectors showed remarkable resilience in the face of continued restrictions. The fact that demand remained so strong is to be celebrated in these difficult times.
Demand was fuelled by a combination of revealed need and accumulating funds to satisfy that need. With a large proportion of the working population sent home to work, or furloughed, often sharing their too small living spaces with young children, homeowners’ priorities shifted rapidly to improving the comfort and convenience of their living spaces, including rooms in the roof. Unable to spend on holidays and entertainment, bank balances of some have continued to swell. By December, the Bank of England reported over £100bn in their bank accounts. Currently, this is estimated to have grown to around £125bn, and forecasts suggest it could be £250bn by July.
There were well documented supply issues, with manufacturers battling to meet strong demand due to factors ranging from severe disruption in Global shipping to Covid related staff absences. This will inevitably flow through in material prices, with timber in particular continuing to pose challenges.
As a multi-national business with operations in Northern Ireland, Poland, and the UK, Keylite Roof Windows prepared comprehensively for Brexit, and all those preparations stood us in good stead. Strict Covid controls also remained in place across our operating sites to ensure we kept our people safe and our supply uninterrupted.
Our sales teams also adapted to new ways of working, getting busy on the phones and video calls. We were rewarded with exceptional sales demand, with double digit growth in Q4 over the previous year. December was particularly strong, driven by merchant customers stocking-up to avoid potential Brexit related disruption as the end of the transition period approached.
As we enter 2021, the market remains strong. Shipping challenges are abating, and we continue to build stock in support of what we expect to be a strong year.