The Crystal Group Comment: Q1 2021

Kevin Morgan, Group Commercial Director The Crystal Group is BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors.

As homeowners spend their recently accumulated savings to improve their homes and expand their living space, sales have taken off in Q1. We’ve had our best quarter ever, particularly for conservatories which provide homeowners with instant extra living space. Looking to Q2, April and May are still trending up in trade, retail, and merchants. But it’s having a knock-on.

Supply chain problems are a huge headache and meeting such high demand is challenging. The cost of our key materials and components is rising, glass, steel, PVC-U profile, and hardware. The price of resin, the main ingredient of PVC-U profile is up nearly 70% since March last year. We don’t expect resin prices to ease before Q4.

Many manufacturers have passed on these price hikes and surcharges to the customer. We’ve kept our price rises to 8%, others have gone higher.

Lead times have increased, and the industry is now working with a four week order book. With current supply chain problems, four weeks is manageable.

How is the industry coping? Our production is running two shifts a day, but we need more people. Recruitment is a problem, particularly in the South East where our factory is based. It’s a limiting factor in production and back office functions, and that seems to be an industry-wide problem.

After just six months the Government axed the Green Homes Grant. It was a botched scheme: over complicated and under promoted, so few installers signed up. Why would they when they were busy? And any scheme needs time to run. Six months was just a gesture. Double glazing was a secondary measure on the scheme, despite the industry pushing for it to be a primary measure, and it feels very much like a missed opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of homes with old 70s, 80s and 90s windows when Britain needs to stop its housing stock needlessly contributing so much to CO2 emissions. Will there be another Green Something incarnation? Will lessons be learned? We hope so.

The window and door industry is experiencing new growing pains as homeowners change their priorities, but as we stretch to meet new levels of demand, we are adjusting quickly.

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