CONS ERVATORI E S & OR ANGERI E S
GGP: Lockdown has obviously had a huge
impact on the industry – can you give us
a brief recap of how you reacted to the
Chris Cooke (CC): Before lockdown we had
encouraged any employees that could work
from home to do so, and we’d introduced social
distancing and safe working practises across
all four sites simultaneously. So I suppose like
almost all businesses, lockdown didn’t come as
a surprise. But, when we did close, it wasn’t a
simple task to navigate. So much was unknown
having never experienced anything like it before.
We assembled a continuation team that
included key staff at each site to discuss and
agree a continuity plan to take us through
lockdown. This included a plan for how we
look after staff, our customers, our suppliers,
our ‘essential’ business needs and operations
and how we to resume business activities when
GGP: Did you remain proactive during
CC: Of course we did, it is what we do. We
made sure any company announcements were
posted on the social media platforms and had
people on hand at each site to manage any
customer/supplier queries that arose. We also
made use of the time to focus on project type
work that you never seem to get close to prelockdown!
GGP: When did you open up? Did you have to
implement new safe working practices?
CC: We had already phased in safe methods of
working prior to lockdown so this wasn’t really
an issue. A one way system around buildings and
walk-ways was installed where possible and we
had updated our risk assessments, SOP’s etc as
everybody will have done.
GGP: There have been reports of a spike
in interest from consumers for home
improvements and additional living space
in recent weeks, with online searches for
conservatories at an all time high – are you
seeing high demand?
CC: Yes! Our quotation levels are way above
normal and order intake is returning to close to
business plan. Most customers are indicating
consumer enquiry levels are remaining high
which is a very, very good indicator.
GGP: Analysts are also suggesting that this
is due to so many people working from home
or on furlough. Also, there is speculation
that people are re-directing holiday funds
into big ticket items. Would you agree this is
good news for the conservatories/orangeries
CC: I agree with both points. A lot of factors are
contributing to this demand, one of the main
ones is the static housing market and the desire
to stay put and improve or extend your home.
GGP: Would you agree that conservatories
present a good opportunity for installers
during this recovery period as they don’t have
to worry so much about health and safety of
working in people’s homes?
CC: I think all home improvement products
present good opportunity for one simple reason
– installers in our sector are problem solvers.
They will find ways to do business safely and
in line with consumer’s expectations. I have no
doubt about this.
GGP: Do you think this demand is just a
reaction to lockdown? What are your thoughts
on the medium/long term for the sector?
CC: I think there is an element of pent up
demand as a result of lockdown, though
the market could be heading in a number of
Positively – there is the real possibility our
sector is in a ‘home improvement bubble’
that may be protected from the worst of the
Negatively – the spike in business is the pent
up demand being realised, and as this tails off
our sector will follow trends in-line with what the
downturn will bring
We will have a better idea in the next two to
Home improvement on a high
GGP Magazine talks to Prefix Systems' director, Chris Cooke, on how
the company coped during lockdown and the demand it is seeing as the
industry gets back to business.