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GGP August 2015

68 FABRICAT O R V I E W A little bit of insight... GGP columnist, Danny Williams, gives his thoughts on the latest Insight Data Fabricator and Installer Market report and considers the latest changes in the recent budget relating to Inote with interest the predictions made by those lovely people at Insight Data recently that ‘the line between installer and builder will dissolve and we will see 34,000 home improvement companies.’ This is based upon the premise that trade counters will continue to grow and that builders will become ‘builder installers’. Sorry Insight, but this is making something out of nothing. For what are builders now if not installers? Nothing has changed Any time a builder is called in to build an extension or re-model a house, it’s odds on the job will include the installation of windows and doors somewhere along the line. It has always been that way, nothing has changed. But seldom will Mr and Mrs Jones ever call in a builder because they have decided that they need new windows and doors – inevitably that will involve the search for a replacement window company, the belief being – usually correctly – that a window company will do the job quicker, cheaper, at least as well if not better than a builder, with all the right paperwork and to the correct standards. And I don’t see anything in my day-to-day life, which involves shifting hundreds of windows and doors and conservatories to builders and specialist installers alike, that suggests the situation will change significantly, if at all. The window, door and conservatory market has always been, notionally at least, a part of the larger building industry. And yet it sits apart. Even when a builder evolves into a window installer – and there were once many examples of that happening during the boom years of the home improvement window trade – they relinquish their status as a builder. For nigh on 40 years now the window industry has been served by its own trade show, first Glassex and now The FIT Show even when the building trade had its own once glorious event, Interbuild. If there was to be a crossover, then that is where it would have taken place. But window fabricators – and certainly not installers – never visited Interbuild in any numbers. And I don’t see that changing. Personal relationship The growth in trade counters cannot be disputed. But this in itself is a change in the supply chain and does not signal an increase in volumes which will, if we are lucky, continue to creep up. Trade counters are what they say on the tin: they are pile ‘em high, shift ‘em quick cut-back operations that exist to supply mostly builders or white van man installers with a few frames. They seldom offer any back up or proactive advice …mess it up at your peril. Customers of such establishments are the small builder, the smaller specialist window installer – they always have been and I maintain that they always will be. Trade counters exist and are growing for the convenience and profitability of the systems suppliers, not for the traditional customers of trade fabricators such as my own operation, Pioneer Trading. The customers of trade fabricators enjoy a personal relationship with their supplier, one that involves mutual trust and the confidence that it is a partnership designed to deliver high quality to the end customer. We will provide a level of care that isn’t possible through a trade counter, which invariably will be staffed by low paid employees who don’t give a monkeys if that customer comes back or goes somewhere else. These days, end-users are better informed, more alert to the pros and cons of buying new windows and doors for their homes. And that means the people installing them need to be at the top of their game too. And they can keep that way by dealing with trade fabricators that care, that are able to provide support and advice along the way and especially if something goes wrong. In turn, we the specialist trade fabricators need to continuously up our game, to provide better sales and marketing tools, new products, faster service and, when push comes to shove, to bail out our customers when the brown stuff hits the fan. In other words, just as it has always been. Doing it on their own doorstep… As you might expect, I have been a Tory supporter for most of my life. After all, are not the Conservatories the party of and for business? After the recent budget however, they might just have lost my vote. The divide is not between business people and the workers; there is now a clear divide in the Tories’ support for ‘Big Business’ with the smaller operator being left behind. For many businesspeople, from the sole trader to the small limited company, the way many plan for their retirement is through investing in property, especially as pension funds and other schemes have all but fallen apart in recent years. I am not talking about the acquisition of large industrial estates or apartment blocks but rather one, two or three houses, bought on buy-to-let mortgages and tenanted out until such time as the properties are bought and paid for, with a bit of luck in time for the business owner’s step out to pasture. Property investment The changes in the recent budget relating to property ownership will impose a significant increase in taxation on this type of individual, potentially several thousands of pounds a year. Apparently targeting ‘wealthier landlords,’ this deflects from the fact that the tax relief that makes property ownership for retirement attractive is being more than halved in 2020, which is some years off, but not in the longer terms of property investment. We must then also consider the huge increase in taxation on dividends from April 2016 – around £7.5% after the new £5,000 allowance – and the burden on the average small businessman, which constitute the bulk of the UK window and door industry, mounts up. Running a small business, even employing just one or two people, is already angst-ridden. This is an attack on small businesses in the UK and strikes at the heart of those that have been savvy enough to build and run a business and for those who are planning for their future. property ownership... www.ggpmag.com August 2015 Danny Williams


GGP August 2015
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