Kevin Morgan, Group Commercial Director The Crystal Group is BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors.
Adapting businesses to keep construction going has not been without challenges. There was some nervousness with the extension of lockdown, but performance has been very encouraging and the RMI sector is buoyant. For Crystal, 2021 started really well with January order generation over 30% up year-on-year. The year ahead looks promising too.
The second half of last year was stronger than the first. Those fortunate enough to keep their jobs spent money on their homes. Online and DIY sector sales have been phenomenal. We benefited particularly from this activity, yet all our routes to market performed well: construction, home improvement and DIY.
In the second half of 2021, no longer under lockdown, home spending may ease as people look to spend elsewhere. But forecasts suggest otherwise, especially if there’s a boost from the continuation of the Green Homes Grant. We’re pushing for the inclusion of double glazing as a primary measure. Currently it’s a secondary measure that can only be included after the purchase of a primary measure such as insulation. There is a lot of older double glazing in the UK that could be sensibly replaced to improve an individual home’s thermal performance and the UK housing stock’s energy efficiency.
Two issues inhibit take up of the Green Homes Grant. Lack of customer awareness, and the qualifications and approvals required by an installation company to be accepted. As they’re already busy, and they take time, effort and money to get, they may not apply. It needs to be promoted strongly if it’s to succeed.
Supply chain issues are moderating, and lead times are improving. As others, we faced a number of challenges in 2020 and came through them all by:
- Securing our supply chain with increased focus on projections, priorities and buying agreements.
- Investing in machinery to improve productivity and capacity.
- Upskilling to cope with a range of Covid-related adaptations.
- Outsourcing logistics to make us more agile.
Whatever was thrown at us, we faced it as a business and a sector, and are stronger as a result.