PVC-U fabrication review
Jade Greenhow, operations director at Insight Data, shares the ndings from a recent
research project into the PVC-U fabrication market.
“Despite this, what is left of the industry,
in its core, remains strong. 23% of PVC-U
fabricators have adopted aluminium into
their portfolios as of 2019”
www.ggpmag.com January 2020
At a time in the industry
where change, adversity and
complications are a regular
occurrence, it can be
incredibly hard to accurately assess
the state of the market.
With the UK fenestration sector
continuing to evolve, Insight Data
is proud to present our PVC-U
Fabrication Review for 2019. The
uncertainty of the UK economy,
political turmoil and consumer
confidence at record lows made 2019
incredibly tough. However, I can
assure you that it has not all been
doom and gloom.
Using Insight Data’s market
intelligence and fenestration
database, we conducted a telephone
market survey speaking to over 190
of the UK’s top fabricators. We asked
all survey respondents to answer
honestly to provide a genuine view
of the PVC-U fabrication market.
The review particularly focuses
on several industry factors: the
industry’s confidence in the past and
into the future, industry trends, any
growth blockers in place and the
future of the sector.
Since 2008, the amount of
companies fabricating PVC-U
has declined by 46.5%. Based on
projections in a ‘worst case’ scenario,
it is estimated that in 2024 a mere
773 PVC-U fabricators will remain.
Should things improve by 2024, it’s
estimated 1,103 fabricators will be
trading in the UK based on current
It is not just the small retail
‘lifestyle’ businesses packing up, but
based on frames per week, larger
fabricators are shutting their factory
doors too. 8.5% of fabricators have
either closed their business, ceased
fabricating or reduced their frame
per week output since 2017.
Despite this, what is left of
the industry, in its core, remains
strong. 23% of PVC-U fabricators
have adopted aluminium into their
portfolios as of 2019.
Aluminium continues its surge
into the domestic market with highend
products such as bi-fold doors
and sliding doors.
This, however, can be extended to
PVC-U high-end products. Vertical
sliders and flush casements are in
vogue alongside recent developments
in more colours and foils than
ever before, which demonstrates
the adaptability of the fenestration
Views on the ground
Despite a decline in the total amount
of fabricators in the UK, confidence
is still high. 70% of respondents
said that they performed either
“well” or “very well” during 2019.
This, alongside 80% of respondents
saying they were confident or very
confident going into 2020, suggests
there is a feeling the sector is starting
Despite data showing no
significant increase in frames per
week being fabricated, 46% of
respondents said they had increased
fabrication volumes in 2019. Delving
more into the data in a more
granular manner suggests that this is
correct – but on a smaller scale.
For example, a company
fabricating 100 frames per week
would have easily increased to
120. 65% of the products being
fabricated are going into replacement
projects rather than new-builds. The
replacement market is still strong,
but with Government targets for
over 300,000 new-builds by 2020,
there is an opportunity to work
within the new-build sector.
Brexit uncertainty is revealed as
the biggest challenge companies are
Raw material costs are a close
second, which is suggested to
be linked to Brexit uncertainty.
Suppliers from outside the UK in
all industries are acting cautiously
without clarification on what
the UK’s position is on Brexit.
Skills crisis, decreasing market,
competition and demand in
products are all heavily mentioned.
Without a doubt, technology
and innovation are shaping UK
businesses across all sectors.
Technology brings growth and
opportunity, but it is certainly
met with an air of caution. PVC-U
fabrication works hand-in-hand with
skilled labour and technology.
The split was close when asked
whether an increase in investment
for more automation within factory
machinery in the next three to five
years will occur, with 54% agreeing
and 34% disagreeing.
Increasing productivity and
decreasing costs is a goal for any
business. The larger fabricators
will achieve this in significant
margins by investing in automation,
while smaller fabricators may not
necessarily see the value in large
investments in machinery for
minimal fluctuation in productivity.
Technology is here to stay, and
companies should start using their
own data to analyse and prepare for
the invasion of automation in the
The PVC-U Fabrication Review is
the first of many regular market
reviews planned for 2020. It follows
the overwhelming response to our
recent research projects into the
commercial aluminium market, the
conservatory roof market and the
industry’s views on Brexit.
These resources can be
downloaded for free from the Insight
Data website and can be found
in the ‘Downloads’ section of the
To download a copy, visit www.