Sales up, but challenges remain

I enjoyed a trip to Aylesbury based JCL Glass last week, a family run glass processing company that has spent the last few years investing heavily in automation.

When I last visited, back in 2022, JCL had just installed an IGIS IGU line and that has since been followed up by a £750k spend on a new Cooltemper toughening plant, which was supplied by Unilam Machinery.

Originally founded by Andy Archer, the driving force behind the business is now Jack, Charlie and Lucy Archer (the ‘J’, ‘C’ and ‘L’ of JCL Glass) and the energy and long-term vision for the company is clear to see. You can read a full article in the April issue of Glass Times.

In other news, there’s more positive feedback from the latest Business Pilot Barometer, which is reporting an increase in average sales in February, only a small upturn from January, but considerably higher than the same period last year.

According to Business Pilot’s senior analyst, the last time that average sales increased in January and February was back in 2021, when demand sky-rocketed following Covid. Interesting figures, but to suggest a return to anywhere near these boom times would be (surely) unimaginable…

Further analyses in the Barometer, which highlights a rise in leads and drop in order value, also points to the volume market picking up, albeit against a backdrop of more companies entering administration, including trade fabricator, Euramax.

On balance then, the message is that while there are opportunities to be had, it’s still a very challenging time for the industry.

As I discussed last week, companies that are equipped with the right products, but also the best data and tools to help them win work, will be the ones that are most likely to thrive.

For installers, that includes business management systems such as Business Pilot, AdminBase and also sales tools such as Tommy Trinder.

In this week’s newsletter, Tommy Trinder has reported that 500 installers are now using its software to help sell windows and doors – it also claims that £1.8billion worth of quotes were prepared via the platform in 2023.

That volume of data also enables Tommy Trinder to highlight certain trends, including the rise in demand for aluminium products.

According to Tommy Trinder, high value aluminium products (which are significantly more popular in the South of the UK) account for 17% of installed products by 36% of the market by value.

You can more learn about the latest aluminium products and trends in our special Aluminium Supplement that will be published with the April issue of Glass Times.