For want of a nail

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell discusses Veka’s decision to cut jobs.

The news that Veka is preparing to cut staff numbers is a sobering piece of news.

There’s no way to sugar-coat the fact that this is largely due to the effects of the lockdown brought about the coronavirus pandemic. It is a simple equation: businesses stop generating money; bills go unpaid; sacrifices have to be made by suppliers to balance the books.

There’s no suggestion that the Veka situation is terminal, but since it sits at the end of the supply chain, the effects of sluggish cash flow are more keenly felt, as there is less wiggle room.

Managing director Dave Jones highlighted a number of significant customer losses that would have put a big dent in Veka’s accounts, especially if they were already running on goodwill. One of these is believed to be Sash UK, which is now in the hands of the administrators.

I’ve visited Sash UK on a number of occasions and found it to be a modern and efficient operation. The fact that it is now in difficulty is a sad day for the industry, and many will be looking at it and thinking “that could have been us”.

Of course, this news comes amid numerous reports of companies emerging from these three months as though propelled by a sling shot; that orders are flooding in and homeowners are lining up home improvement projects with gay abandon.

I’m sure that for most, the reality is somewhere in the middle; that cloth is being cut according to means while operations are being fine-tuned to deal with business post-Covid-19.

Since March 23, the spotlight has also been shone on the role cash has to play in the efficient running of an industry. Quite simply: if bills are not paid on time, the pain isn’t just felt by your supplier, but all their suppliers too.

As enquiries and orders start to pick up again, let’s just hope that there are not further casualties caused by holes in accounts that could have easily been filled.