Getting back on the horse

Andrew Scott, managing director of Purplex, explains why it’s time for the industry to build again.

With Covid restrictions being lifted, and most adults to be vaccinated by April, the government and UK business leaders are now turning their attention to economic recovery.

Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays Bank, recently compared the current situation to that of the roaring 20s, when an explosion of economic growth, innovation and pent-up demand followed the 1918-1920 flu pandemic, which infected tens of millions of people.

Referring to consumers’ current financial position after 12 months of inactivity, he said: “There is just enormous stored up purchasing power. Consumers have decreased borrowing and increased their deposits.”

According to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane households are sitting on £150 billion of savings accrued since the pandemic, and he wants to encourage consumers to spend it to stimulate a strong V-shaped recovery. Combined with historic low interest rates and lenders with surplus cash, a boom over the next few years looks likely.

But it isn’t just about consumer spending. The manufacturing trade body Make UK has just revised its 2021 growth forecast from 2.7% to 3.9%, which represents a 44% improvement.

And, according to a poll carried out by Accenture of 12,000 firms, expectations of a pick-up in growth are stronger than at any point since 2015.

Of course, it isn’t all good news. The high street is littered with corporate failures and the travel and hospitality sectors have been decimated.

The glass and glazing industry has seen its fair share of failure, too. Companies that were weak before the pandemic have struggled to survive, with several high-profile collapses.

But for most of the glazing industry, the planets are aligned. Pent-up consumer demand, a surplus of cash, low interest rates, and homeowners spending more time at home than ever before is likely to mean only one thing: a £multi-billion spending spree.

After a year of crisis after crisis, uncertainty, and stress for many business owners and leaders, thinking about growth may not be at the top of the list. The pandemic has taken its toll not only financially, but also emotionally. Energy levels are running low.

But we have to get back on the horse. It’s time to look forward and build again. And the companies that build now will be the ones that benefit the most.

For some companies, it will be a case of re-building after a very difficult year. For others, which may have had a successful year despite the pandemic, it’s a perfect foundation to build upon.

Either way, the opportunity is there for those who wish to grab it. Investing in your brand, in your products, and in the right people at a time when the market is flourishing could re-write your future. What is preventing your company achieving 10%, 25% or even 50% growth?

With restrictions lifted by June, connecting with other business owners and industry leaders is a good way to build relationships, get inspired, and learn. The glazing industry has always been a face-to-face sector that thrives on energy and personal contact, and there are several important events lined up.

In July, Glass Times will host the fabulous Glass Times Race Day at Haydock. September will have the industry come together to see what’s new at the FIT Show, while November will see the return of the prestigious G Awards.

And on October 21, at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham, industry leaders and experts will once again come together for the Glazing Summit, with keynote speakers, panellists, networking and a VIP leaders’ dinner in the evening.

We are fortunate to be in an industry with so much opportunity. It has faced major challenges, including supply-chain issues, material shortages and rising costs.

But there has never been a better time to build: to build our industry, our businesses, our brands, and to build relationships and new opportunities.

I suspect Barclays Bank CEO Jes Staley is right; we are heading for the roaring 20s.