All change?

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell unpicks the latest industry announcements.

A couple of significant stories have broken at the beginning of March that have really given watercoolers their secondary purpose.

The first is the shocking, but not surprising (if all the rumours were to be believed), news that Synseal went into administration, only for it to be snapped up by Aperture Trading, which had been established by Synseal’s former majority shareholder Adrian Fawcett, saving more than 1,000 jobs in the process.

These types of deals are not unknown in our industry, but one commentator said to me that this is probably the largest of its kind that we’ve seen.
The three new directors are Adrian, CEO Matthew Mycock, and CFO Brian Allan.

Andy Jones, who sits on the senior management team, spoke to me this morning (March 6), the day after the deal went through, and explained that their first job was to re-establish support within the supply chain.

“In these circumstances, you can go one of two ways,” Andy said, “and we’ve been lucky; continuity of supply is very important for our customers.”
Andy was confident that, as a result, there should be minimal disruption to Synseal’s customers and business should return to normal within a couple of weeks, if not before.

Apart from Mastador, which has (understandably) been changed to Calibre, all brands should remain constant, but Andy did say that they would be looking to consolidate the number of systems the company provides, alongside introducing a flush sash.

Synseal has already decided to drop conservatory roof fabrication from its offering, opting instead to support its fabricator customers in expanding their businesses.

“We can’t be in a position where we compete with our customers,” he said.

This is clearly a developing story, and one that we will continue to follow in the magazine.

The second story to emerge over the last week, was the news that a number of exhibitors have pulled out of the FIT Show, barely two months before the doors open at the NEC in Birmingham. Over the past few months, and as Brexit approaches, a number of exhibitors have either cancelled or reduced their stand size.

I spoke to Paul Godwin, one of the show’s directors, this morning, and he remained positive about the FIT Show’s success.

He pointed out that this year’s event is already larger than 2017, which was hailed as a success, and the targets for the 2019 show were established before the EU referendum and based upon the predicted growth of the event.

“We were ambitious with our targets – based on a future that didn’t include Brexit – which we haven’t hit,” Paul said, “but we are ahead of what we achieved in 2017.”

“We could have reduced the size of the floorplan before now, but sales in August last year were extremely good.

“Brexit has had a huge effect on UK generally, and all shows at all venues in all industries are reporting similar scenarios – as you would expect.
“Had it not been for Brexit – the most turbulent political scenario in recent times – we would have hit our targets easily.”

Paul’s optimism is buoyed further by the fact that he continues to receive positive vibes and enthusiasm from exhibitors.

“In 2011, when we launched the FIT Show, the industry was in recession,” he said. “When we came along, we gave companies hope and a target.

“Today, the FIT Show is a unifying element – exhibitors are saying we will survive and thrive. The show is like a rallying cry and a focus for those companies that want to carry on trading.”

Paul also pointed out that the latest pre-registration figures are 30% up on 2017.

“There is an appetite for this year’s FIT Show; people want something positive out of this,” Paul said.