Colourful language

Colour is a key opportunity for installers and fabricators. That makes quality and lead times from system suppliers more important than ever before, says Ian Cocken, director of sales and marketing at Aluplast.

There is a major paradox in the window and door industry right now: post-lockdown growth coupled with high profile failures.

On the one hand, many fabricators and installers are reporting massive post-lockdown growth, fuelled not just by pre-existing work that was put on hold over the last few months, but from a surge in demand of new orders from the retail sector as well.

With much of the country confined to quarters in late March, either on furlough (9.3 million as of June 28) or working from home (38% of the workforce according to YouGov), analysts have pointed to a renewed focus on consumers wanting to improve or extend their properties as a reason for this upturn.

This, coupled with money freed up from cancelled holidays, has been a major contributing factor in reports of record year-on-year retail sales, and of manufacturers on course to beat predicted targets for 2020.

On the other hand, for all the success stories, there have also been some very high-profile failures, primarily from businesses suffering from underlying issues before Covid-19. This, when taken in context with AMA Research’s prediction of a 22% drop in the value of the window and door market this year, is a stark reminder of the challenges still facing the industry.

On balance, however, there are clear opportunities for fabricators and installers in the post-Covid-19 recovery period, specifically in coloured and foiled products which were already identified as a key driver for the replacement market prior to the coronavirus.

In order to take advantage of them, it has never been more important to ensure both the quality of product, and the reliability of supply chain.

Consumers can be impatient at the best of times, so in the current situation, where we are experiencing high demand and installers and fabricators are all working in challenging conditions to fulfil orders and replenish cash reserves as quickly as possible, being able to rely upon a fast and dependable service on foils is hugely advantageous.

We can deliver standard colours in as little as three working days, and bespoke foils in 15 working days. This is a highly competitive and flexible service that’s made possible due to the significant investment we’ve made in new foiling lines and in CNC foiling technology at our manufacturing facilities.

This includes the addition of three new foiling lines at the start of this year, giving Aluplast a 50+ foiling line capacity across its 13-hectare manufacturing site. This gives Aluplast not only immense scale but eliminates the time lost in traditional foiling in manual set-up and switch over, and reduces change over time between runs from hours to minutes.

It means we can deliver consistent high quality and volume but our customers are also benefiting from cost savings and shorter lead times.

Aluplast processes more than 90,000m of foiled profile each day, and the range consists of six standard and 30 plus foiling options, bolstered by aluskin, our aluminium external cladding system, and Woodec, which is designed to replicate both the aesthetics and feel of timber.

We have continually invested in the development of our colour range, including a grey substrate option, which includes the contemporary Ideal 4000, flexible Ideal 70, and newly launched Smart-Slide patio system.

We have also recently expanded our standard foil offering with the option for Smooth AP60 anthracite grey on both interior and exterior surfaces. This new contemporary finish can be combined with Aluplast’s grey substrate core and is available across the company’s complete PVCU product range.

We are giving consumers the contemporary style they aspire to but at a much more attractive price point, and in a product that offers far superior energy efficiency and performance.

Combined with our new patio door Smart-Slide, which can span openings 4.5m wide and 2.5m high with just two panels, it presents installers with an unbeatable opportunity to upsell against other PVCU systems, or even to compete directly with aluminium.

Colour remains a huge opportunity for the industry during this recovery phase, but we are not out of the woods yet. Having the right products in your portfolio is of course vital, but fast leads times and a highly competitive service on foils are now more important than ever.