A shock to the system

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell asks if Lister Trade Frames is he canary in the mine?

While its fortunes appear to be better than they were at the end of last week, the fact that the highly regarding Stoke-based Lister Trade Frames was put into administration will have sent shock waves through the industry.

Listers is well-known for investing in machinery, software and staff, and its senior managers have always been active members of the GGF and are often seen at business events. The company is also recognised for making excellent products with a customer service to match.

The fact that such a reputable company is in the hands of the administrators is probably something of a wake-up call.

Since the global credit crunch in 2007/08, fabricators typically delayed any serious investment until the storm clouds started to clear. And sure enough, we have been through something of a purple patch in recent years, with many companies looking to increase their output and efficiency by buying new machinery and investing in infrastructure.

Not that companies are going overboard with their new purchases – it is obvious that in some cases investment is long overdue, and in others demand clearly dictates the extra spend.

However, as we reported recently, volumes have been dropping – by as much as 15%, according to some – and if you are out on a limb, those small drops can leave you exposed.

Fortunately, the early signs are that Lister Trade Frames will be picked up by someone else – let’s just hope this isn’t the first of many.