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DGCOS at the Glazing Summit

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DGCOS at the Glazing Summit

DGCOS at the Glazing Summit

Last month, Adrian Simpson (Assistant Director of Consumer Policy) and Paul Wingfield (Communications Manager) of DGCOS attended this new industry conference, organised by Insight Data and Purplex Marketing, continuing our strategy of engaging with key industry leaders, trade bodies and government departments.

Held at the St. Johns Hotel and Conference Centre in Solihull on the 22nd May, over 400 business leaders attended the conference during the day and over 150 stayed on for the networking Leaders Dinner in the evening. This was the first large industry debate since the Triple Glazing Question four years ago – the industry needs regular events like this!

It was certainly an interesting day with very informative talks about the present and the future of the window and door industry. The packed conference featured 9 sessions, which included many of the industry’s well-known influencers as key-note speakers and contributing to panel discussions. The most interesting points to note were:

Jade Greenhow of Insight Data presented her industry report

There are now just over 15,000 companies involved in the sale and manufacture of double glazing products in the UK, a rise of 328 since 2014. There has been a significant decline in fabricators as more installers have moved to “buying-in”. Changes within the supply chain have led to the rise of trade counters and local builders now grabbing more market share from installation companies.

More consumers are preferring to improve rather than move, and important mention was made of the ageing workforce, leading to a loss of skills, with not enough young people coming into the industry.

Materials Debate

Industry leaders discussed the growth of aluminium and other products, and the implications for PVCu system companies, fabricators and installers. There has been a timber window resurgence as well as aluminium.

PVCu has had a bad press due to the “Blue Planet” programme which showed the effect of plastics. As we all know in the industry, PVCu is recyclable and that message needs to get to consumers.

Installer Challenges Debate

Consumers are more demanding, and HMRC is clamping down on the self-employed and subcontractors, leading to thinner margins. Consumers are also using social media a lot more to complain.

Offering finance attracts consumers especially in the late 20s to 55 bracket something some businesses should consider offering. Also, we have to attract young people to our industry; there is a gap for good people with practical skills who don’t want to go to university and should be attracted to our industry.

Andrew Scott on the New Marketing Landscape

Businesses that stand still will die. You might not be looking at competitors, but your customers are.

To enable better chances of survival, you must think like a small business no matter how large you are; businesses must be adept at change, embrace technology and be where their customers are (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc) and engage with them.

Brand reputation is key. Purplex often see a marketing wave – business slows down, so businesses pump money into marketing. This then stops and the wave repeats! Marketing should be multi-channel and consistent.

Threats and Opportunities to the Glazing Industry Debate

The ageing workforce and hence skills shortage was the chief topic debated. Young people are attracted to other professions that get “more money” – the money is no longer “high” like it was in the 70s and 80s heyday. It was agreed that we need to get across to young people that entering the glazing industry is a worthwhile and rewarding career.

Walter Boettceher, Chief Economist at Colliers International, presented his UK Economic Report – key points

Regional economic growth is driven by population growth, and Scotland is doing the worst of all the UK nations.

Poor weather in Q1 2018 led to a reduction in overall consumer spending, yet residential construction continues to grow.

Innovation and Technology Debate

Millennials are the biggest users of the IoT (Internet of Things – everyday systems and products used and controlled over the internet). A panel member stated that it is interesting that 63% of consumers say that security concerns are the biggest barriers to using more IoT devices.

Whilst a “smart” window is some way off; the price of smart locks will reduce over time (another panel member advised that 50% of Scandinavian homes have smart locks).

Acquisitions and the Future Debate

There has been a decrease in fabricators but an increase in the number of installers; more installers are ceasing fabricating because it is often cheaper to buy-in from a trade fabricator.

Since 2011, austerity cuts have led to an increase in businesses for sale, and owners of many businesses in the industry are getting older so looking to sell their business and retire.

A lot of the companies acquired are those that failed to invest and innovate. Moreover, company acquirers are not predators, and the sale of a business can, of course, help keep people in jobs.

Evening Leaders Networking Dinner

The dinner was a great opportunity to talk one-to-one to other attendees about DGCOS’s upcoming new marketing campaign.

The after-dinner speaker was Gerald Ratner – very entertaining and a reminder of how not to market a business. He was given a rousing round of applause!

Gerald Ratner

So, next year?

This was the first year of The Glazing Summit and there is talk of it being a regular event. Adrian and Paul agreed it was a great event, with plenty of fascinating insights from the industry. DGCOS will definitely attend the next one and look at sponsoring and taking part in a debate!

 

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