A year like no other

Huw Williams, commercial director for the hardware supplier ERA’s parent company, Tyman UK and Ireland

It’s safe to say that this year has created some extremely difficult challenges for the entire window and door industry. Every area of the sector has been significantly impacted by the repercussions of the pandemic, which have created supply chain issues on an unprecedented scale.

The uplift in home improvement spending far exceeded everyone’s demand forecasts, and exacerbated product shortages, which, when combined with distribution delays and the increased cost of raw materials, created a strained trading environment for all of us. This was compounded by the UK’s housing market boom, stimulated by the government’s stamp duty holiday and the launch of the Affordable Homes programme.

These factors combined to create a very challenging market; one that we are currently operating within. We will continue to do so for at least the first half of 2022.

However, some positives can be taken from 2021. The acceleration in demand has encouraged every stage of the supply chain to collaborate, fostering stronger relationships between manufacturers, suppliers and customers in many instances.

It has also prompted the industry to re-evaluate their operations, to identify new and more efficient ways of working. This has enabled businesses to better understand their customers’ needs and recognise how they can change their own practices in order to fulfil them. As a result, every stage of the supply chain is working proficiently to achieve the same goals.

For ERA, this has included making tactical decisions, to enable us to react quicker to customer requirements across the product categories experiencing the highest levels of demand. We’ve even switched deliveries to air and rail freight, at times during 2021, to ensure stock needed by our customers was delivered in the shortest possible lead times.

We’ve also become more resilient – our teams have adapted to the challenges thrown at us and we’ve worked hard to help customers capitalise on the opportunities created by a buoyant housing market and the home improvement boom. Together, we have taken steps to build better and more robust supply chain processes, to improve product availability, now and in the future.

Looking ahead to 2022, achieving a more sustainable approach to product design, manufacture and supply, whilst meeting the requirements of the latest regulations, are factors we all must continue to address, without impacting levels of supply. Whilst the supply chain disruptions aren’t over yet, by working together and implementing key learnings in our operations, as an industry we can continue to evolve to create a more efficient, sustainable and successful sector for everyone.

Huw Williams
Commercial director of Tyman UK and Ireland

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