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GGP February 2017

6 NEWS ‘Modest growth’ for conservatory market New GGF president Xtralite, the UK manufacturer of rooflights and structural glazing has been acquired by German company Jet Group. The Jet Group has been manufacturing and distributing light domes across Europe for more than 40 years. Eric Pans, Jet Group chief executive said: “We are very enthusiastic about the technical competence and strong brand reputation of Xtralite. We should be www.ggpmag.com February 2017 able to develop excellently in the UK and extend our market position.” Xtralite, formed in 1993, based in Blyth, Northumberland, is said to have quickly established itself as the largest UK independent rooflight manufacturer with a reputation for quality products and creative designs. Bob Tweedy, founder of Xtralite, commented: “This is a great opportunity for Xtralite to continue its growth strategy in the UK. The support from our holding company, Jet Group, will enable us to continue product development and enhance our customer service.” Following a recent investment of over a quarter of a million pounds in additional manufacturing facilities, operations are set to continue at the Blyth premises, with Bob Tweedy maintaining an active role, focusing on the progression of the company. The conservatory and glazed extension market was estimated to have increased by around 3% in 2016. A combination of a continued recovery in the economy – and the housing market in particular, are said to have helped underpin rising consumer confidence and spending on higher value home improvements, particularly with interest rates so low. The UK conservatory market had been in decline for some years, with the ‘aspirational’ appeal of the traditional conservatory waning in the latter half of the 2000s – a situation which was further exacerbated by the financial crisis. Recent years have seen some recovery, however, while value growth has been ‘relatively good’, volume growth is less buoyant with only 1-2% increases over the last two years, and only modest volume increases currently forecast to 2020. In 2016, AMA says the market is quite sophisticated in terms of product range and offers more options for an individualised project. Consumers installing modern conservatories in their home now expect them to be used as living spaces throughout the year, rather than only during warmer weather as was previously the case. Key product features which have become more important in the conservatory market include improved thermal efficiency, high specification self-cleaning glass, coloured frames, bi-fold opening doors, etc. Substantial product development is ongoing in this market as ‘increasingly demanding’ homeowners look for a more bespoke service. AMA estimates that prices have been rising over the past few years, despite volume fluctuations, primarily reflecting an overall increase in specification levels. For installers, there remains a significant squeeze on margins, particularly in the budget sector, but some installers have addressed this issue by diversifying and offering a wider range of products than traditional conservatory/window companies, with examples including solar panels, alarm systems and driveways. In terms of frame materials, PVCU continues to dominate, but timber also retains a ‘significant share’ according to AMA, based on its ‘natural appearance and sustainability credentials’. Aluminium remains a ‘more expensive option’, though it has retained a niche share in the domestic market and aluminium bifold doors, particularly, have gained what AMA describes as ‘widespread consumer acceptance’. In general, the main channels of distribution are replacement window companies, garden centres, DIY outlets, conservatory specialists, builders and online. In the self-build conservatory sector, the focus has switched from DIY outlets to online conservatory specialists, which were found to offer a wider range of product options than those offered by DIY outlets. Jane Tarver of AMA Research, said: “Market improvement in 2017 and beyond is likely to be driven by levels of house moving/home extension building, consumer confidence and growth in the retrofit/upgrade market – particularly if interest rates remain at historically low levels. “However, the future economic landscape is tempered by the uncertainty surrounding the commencement and potential effects of Brexit.” Substantial increases in volumes or value of new conservatories are not forecast in the short-medium term. Current forecasts indicate modest growth in overall value of sales, but according to AMA, this is likely to be underpinned by the continuing interest in upgrading or replacing older conservatories with higher specification products. In addition, AMA estimates that annual volumes are likely to remain below 100,000 in the short-medium term. Ultimately, says AMA, conservatories/extensions are a ‘deferrable purchase’ and sales volumes are heavily dependent on economic conditions, making future demand year on year difficult to forecast in the current climate. The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has welcomed its 23rd president, Alan Burgess, managing director of Masterframe Windows, at a reception at The Building Centre in London. Alan has more than 45 years’ experience in the industry and has sat on several boards and committees within the GGF Group. He said: “It’s a great year to be GGF president as 2017 marks the GGF’s 40th anniversary. Today, I outlined some of the events and initiatives we have planned to celebrate this special year in the history of the GGF. We have 37 founder members who have been with the federation continuously for 40 years and since 1977, the GGF has grown considerably. In recent years more companies have joined and discovered the many benefits of membership. I am now looking forward to helping the GGF and its members – regardless of company size and status – and I hope my personal attributes of fairness and due diligence, along with my independence of mind will help ensure that my tenure as president is one of continued success for GGF members.” Xtralite acquired by Jet Group Bob Tweedy & Eric Pans Brian Baker welcomes Alan Burgess (right)


GGP February 2017
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