Kevin Morgan, Group Commercial Director The Crystal Group is BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors.
The overall windows and doors market had a poor first half. According to FENSA, registered installations – mostly those sold by installers to homeowners – were down 8.2% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year. However, sales of PVC-U windows and doors through builders’ merchants to builders and installers continue to grow strongly.
Now that builders can order any window or door they like, in any colour, from builders’ merchants with a faster delivery time than elsewhere, it’s a natural and easy way to sell. It’s also additional business for them.
The strongest merchant performances are coming from those who have invested in showrooms and engaged, with Crystal for example, to provide new initiatives to builders and end-users.
It’s not just a replacement and improvement market. Doors and windows can represent up to 12% of house build costs. While major housebuilders buy direct, small local builders often need help, and if merchants are not set up to supply them properly they could miss the added value sales from houses that are being built, probably by existing customers.
Over the years, national direct-sell window companies have been cited by consumer watchdogs, the media and Which? Report for their hard sales tactics and inflated prices, so it’s not surprising that homeowners and builders are a bit wary of window and door companies. When homeowners ask friends and family who they’ve used, and search online, a local builders’ merchant is seen as a safe, credible source. While merchants would not have been top of mind in the past, they’re trusted for reliable building expertise and fair dealing. Merchant customers who have worked with us on initiatives to provide showroom displays, expertise and reassurance show conclusively that these are ‘enablers’ that sell more doors and windows.
One such ‘enabler’ is Crystal’s new supply and fit installation service. Rolled out nationally in Q1, it offers a full service to builders who may not have the confidence or experience to offer windows and doors to their customers, and sales show it’s working. Developing this channel is all about making it easy for builders to buy.