Growth areas in 2017

What will 2017 have in store?  Dave Broxton, managing director of Bohle, discusses.

At the start of this year Brexit remains the ‘elephant in the room’. The timetable and shape of our parting with the EU remain unknown quantities. Clarity on both soon will be important in securing  our continuing economic growth economic and that of our European partners.

At the time of writing, that may seem further away than ever. The Supreme Court is currently debating whether or not the UK government has the right to evoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – our EU ‘get out clause’ – without putting a vote to parliament. Its decision is expected this month [January 2017].

But whatever the outcome, there’s a guarantee that between now and our eventual departure, there is going to be more political wrangling ahead, which adds little and serves only as a distraction.

As a business, we have been looking long and hard at Brexit and its ramifications for our own business, and while much has changed politically and economically, in fact very little has changed on a day-to-day business level. The UK and Ireland are crucial to the success of the Bohle Group and will remain so.

Ours is a global business and we do business around the world regardless of membership or otherwise, of economic trading partnerships.

For me, what’s more interesting are the changes that are taking place locally within our own industry. As always, there are a mix of opportunities and challenges.

There will be continuing pressure on prices. Smaller glass processors – at the very least those without a specialism – will continue to face challenges from larger competitors. This is something that we believe will make diversification into new markets key.

Conversely, the commercial market can be expected to continue to grow. Work, from office partitioning to curtain walling, represent significant opportunities going forward. Architectural systems (for example balustrades and staircases) will remain growth areas, but critically, growth areas with a strong through-pull of core products.  

Regardless of the wider economic context, technology is also delivering some very exciting opportunities, which are redefining the use of glass in both architecture and furniture design.

Switchable glass, glass printing and UV bonding technologies, for example, represent a significant area of opportunity but also one where glass processors can add value, and therefore, margin.

This is where our strategy sits at Bohle. We’re delivering new focus to those areas that we see as adding increased margin and product through pull, to glass processors and IGU manufactures.

This includes continuing investment in our hardware ranges. The Frametec Premium interior partitioning system, for example, was developed to support glass processors in accessing growth in the commercial sector. Offering easy installation and available in six different dimensions, it delivers exceptional sound insulation of 33dB, and it is certified to EN ISO 10140.

We can also support glass processors in accessing opportunities offered in balustrading, through our EasyMount systems and post and rail products.

We’re investing in shower hardware, for example the Madrid shower door hinge, which we launched last year. We also launched our new free-to-use shower configurator to help our customers design shower enclosures and, because it is linked to our ordering system, produces a comprehensive picking list of products as well as files to produce the glass.

This innovation is core to our strategy. Bohle’s machinery offer, our fittings, UV bonding, surface protection, consumables, vacuum technology and glass processing tools, are each the product of glass processor demand and Bohle’s continuing research and development programme.

The development of our new high output UV-tube lamps, the latest incarnations of our proven Versalux and Masterbelt belt grinding machines, plus new CNC milling cutter machine tools are driven by a strategy geared towards delivering increased flexibility but also high margin opportunity to our customers.

In the end, the technologies that we are delivering will continue to support our customers in securing high margin sales opportunities – and we and they, will continue to grow, irrespective of what challenges Brexit my throw up.