Are you ready for a challenging year?

Jeremy Phillips
Jeremy Phillips

After a solid 2023, Jeremy Phillips, Group Chairman of CDW Systems says this year will be an ‘interesting one’ for fabricators.

The doom and gloom predicted for 2023 never fully materialised, and it was only towards the end of the year when there was a drop off in orders. While we don’t want to see the market slow down, some perspective is needed.

The huge demand in 2021 and 2022 has probably meant that we have forgotten that peaks and troughs are normal when you look back to pre-Covid. Of course, that’s not to say that things won’t be tougher in 2024, and the economic forecasts certainly suggest most consumers will be in for a rougher ride.

As a fabricator, we must make sure that we are offering our customers the right products and support to make sure they are winning the business that’s out there. As a trade supplier it can be difficult for us to get to the end user, and we are very much reliant on the customer. However, thanks to our sister company Clearway Doors and Windows, we understand what it’s like for installers and what they need.

This year should see some interesting trends emerge and we expect to see aluminium sliding doors, particularly lift and slide, become the new bi-fold doors. Consumers are wanting larger glass areas and uninterrupted views.

They are also easier for the end user to operate. One thing the industry is missing in general is an up-to-date operation and maintenance manual for aluminium products. We are happy to work alongside trade organisations such as the GGF and our system company partners to remedy this.

Heritage and Crittal-style products have proved very popular and should continue to do so in 2024. We have also seen the colour black become more popular with households which could see it take over from anthracite as the colour of choice.

Black can be a difficult colour to fabricate because as a powder it’s much softer, but matt, which is more forgiving, tends to be the preferred finish instead of gloss.

It will be interesting to see if quality continues to be a big driver in 2024. We had instances last year where customers left us for other suppliers but came back to us because the quality wasn’t good, despite the cheaper price and shorter lead times – which was very surprising as we are a very price focussed industry.

Looking at new products for 2024, the replacement market will stay the same with U-values but there will be some enhancements on security with Document Q and we need to make sure we provide our customers with a range of compliant products.

We’re not just restricted to one systems house which allows us to have a look at what’s available.

New players have come in, with more PVC-U fabricators now starting to branch into aluminium, but on the other hand we have many customers who fabricate themselves but are using us to help to try and reduce the pressure on their factory.

So it is likely to be a challenging year and we need to make sure we are ready so our customers can be.

When things get tougher, each stage of the supply chain needs to look after the other. After all, we all rely on the quality coming down the line, and if our customers are doing well then it means we will be too.

CDW Systems
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