Quiet Optimism Despite Squeeze on Margins – Epwin Group Market Barometer

Published: 20th February 2010

Quiet Optimism Despite Squeeze on Margins – Epwin Group Market Barometer

The Epwin Group has unveiled new research which suggests the window industry remains quietly optimistic about its prospects in 2011, despite continuation of tough trading conditions.

The research, carried out in late October and early November, found 40 per cent of those fabricators and installers questioned forecast sales growth in the coming year.

A further 37 per cent predicted conditions across markets would remain static, 17 per cent believed conditions would toughen and sales decrease, while six per cent said that they remained uncertain as to their prospects through 2011.

Looking back at the first three-quarters of 2010, 33 per cent of those polled reported a decrease in sales, while 32 per cent reported an increase. 34 per cent said that sales volume had remained the same.

This was largely mirrored by figures for turnover with 35 per cent of respondents reporting that they had seen turnover remain the same as in 2009. A further 30 per cent reported an increase, while 26 per cent said that they had seen a drop in turnover.

There was, however, wide agreement that margin had decreased (49 per cent) with just five per cent of fabricators and installers reporting an increase. Of 200 companies polled, only 38 per cent reported that they had been able to maintain margin at the 2009 rate.

Andrew Kerr, Epwin Group, who headed the research programme said: “We conducted the research in the weeks immediately after changes to Part L came into force as it represented a watershed period for the window industry. What we found was a reasonable amount of optimism about the coming year, despite looming cuts in public spending.

“All respondents reported tough conditions throughout the first three-quarters of 2010 and while many had maintained volume, the value of those sales had been eroded leading to falling margins.”

As part of its rolling development programme the Epwin Group has continually realigned its product range to support fabricators and installers in maximising margins and production efficiencies.

To this end its systems companies Profile 22 and Swish Window and Door Systems, significantly expanded their colour ranges earlier this year which gives fabricators and installers a choice of 19 colour and foiled wood grain finished options.

Available in as little as a 14 working day turnaround with delivery to fabricators on their next scheduled vehicle, the expanded service has also been developed to bring new flexibility to manufacture. This includes far greater flexibility on lower volume orders.

Rob McGlennon, sales director, Profile 22, said: “Research findings show that almost across the board margins are under pressure. We’re developing products that allow fabricators and installers to maintain margin.

“Colour, for example sold alongside other innovations: enhanced security, sustainability and thermal efficiency, strengthens PVC-U’s appeal in the retail and commercial sectors allowing installers to up-sell on aesthetics as part of an advanced product offering.”

In a similar vein the Epwin Group has also recently unveiled its thermal rating register, U-comply, which allows fabricators to demonstrate Part L compliance through either a u-value or WER rating across any number of specifications, eliminating expenditure of testing and to avoid the significant additional cost associated with over specification of product.

McGlennon concludes: “Maintaining margin is going to be critical going forward, even if you are one of those companies reporting volume growth, because things are going to remain tough out there. Across our systems business and throughout the Epwin Group we see continual and flexible product and service innovation to support fabricators and installers in maintaining prices as our strategic priority for the next 12 months and beyond.”

For more information on low maintenance, sustainable and energy efficient building products from the Epwin Group visit www.epwin.co.uk  or call 01242 243444.

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