Slow start for 2024 – and insolvencies rise

The latest Business Pilot Barometer, which is based on industry retail sales, presents some positive – and some less positive – data this month.

Average retail sales are climbing, but the first quarter of 2024 is still underperforming when compared to the same period last year.

And while there are some interesting stats in this month’s Barometer, it’s also worth noting that there has been a marked rise in industry insolvencies in February and March

According to the latest figures from Insight Data, in March, the industry witnessed an uptake in insolvencies, with 115 installers and fabs registered as insolvent. In February that figure was 63, but it has been on an upward trajectory since the end of 2023.

Among those companies that folded in March, 80 included PVC in their product offering, 62 offered aluminium and 38 offered timber.

There was also a rise in main contractors and architects entering into insolvency, but also a significant upturn in small building firms. The amount of small builders that folded in February was 111, rising to 190 in March – an increase of around 71%.

For more details, you can read an exclusive report from Insight Data in the April issue of Glass Times magazine.

These are sobering stats for the industry but we are not alone. According to YouGov, the number of registered company insolvencies in February 2024 was 2,102, compared to 1,801 in February 2023, a rise of 17% year on year.

This is higher that levels during Covid, where Government support measures were in place, and also higher than pre-pandemic numbers.

To summarise, it’s a mixed picture for the industry. There are clearly companies that are doing well, and I’ve seen first-hand how successful manufacturers and suppliers are continuing to invest and are positive for the future.

But there’s no doubt that challenges remain, and we may still see more consolidation in the six months of 2024, with – I’m told – the chance of a more positive outlook in the second half of the year…