that might very well be earmarked for glazed extensions instead.
This does, I admit, paint a rather ‘glass half full’ picture of the industry. Yes,
things are started to get moving again, in some cases sooner than were perhaps
anticipated by some, and yes there are encouraging signs for a potential ‘mini
boom’ in retail, but by no means does it mean a magical return to normal over
the coming months unless you are already putting plans in place, and indeed for
multiple scenarios. A lot of installation companies have been proactive, making
the use of digital tools to build up a ‘head of steam’ of orders once they work
through their existing back log that was put on hold by the lockdown. But there
are many more that are basically in denial, who have switched off the phones,
and are living off furlough. But the deadline for furlough is looming. Even as I
write this, a report from The Times suggests the government is fearful that UK
businesses are ‘addicted’ to the scheme – which some say will end up costing
£bn – and is now actively trying to wean us off it.
So, for companies not facing up to reality now, there are going to be some
serious problems at the end of June.
Many fabricators and installers, who were possibly at risk before Covid-, will
not survive the Autumn.
But for those that are taking advantage of all the advice available to them – of
which there is plenty in this issue of GGP Magazine it has to be said – then the
opportunity to come out of Covid- in a better place than you started, is there
for the taking.
What a difference a month makes. This time four weeks ago, we
had only just entered lock-down and the vast majority of the
window, door and conservatory industry had battened down
the hatches and shut up shop.
Now, as I sit down to write my comment for the May issue, many fabricators
and suppliers have already started to get back to work, albeit in a very controlled
and phased manner, with minimal staff and well thought out H&S procedures
designed to put the safety and well-being of employees fi rst and foremost.
Of course, many fi rms had retained key offi ce staff during the lockdown,
‘a heartbeat team’ as Mila put it, to make sure they were best placed to begin
reopening, but then some manufactures – and even installers – revealed that
they only actually shut down for a brief period before demand, predominantly
from the commercial sector, essentially forced them to get up and running again,
even if it was at a reduced output. Pioneer Trading, with an NHS contract, and
Emplas with both commercial customers and retail demand from its Australian
concern, Ecostar, were fortunate in this respect.
Thom Emmerson, sales and marketing director of installation company (and
Emplas customer) Ideal Window Solutions, admitted in a ‘virtual’ roundtable
event hosted by Emplas, that – give or take a day or two – he hasn’t actually
stopped working, thanks again to commercial contracts, although he also
outlined a decent amount of demand from retail as well.
As for the retail sector, there have been plenty of reports of spikes in demand
for home improvements – no doubt fuelled by all the home workers considering
smarter surroundings for all those future Zoom and Teams offi ce video calls –
and it has to be said that with expensive oversees holidays off the menu for the
foreseeable, there will be plenty of cash kicking about over the coming months
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