Prepared for anything

As we step into the new year, conversations around what lies ahead in 2019 are aplenty. What will be the main challenges for the year ahead, and what trends will dominate our discussions? Claire Miller, who joined Rehau as marketing director late last year, shares her thoughts on what 2019 has in store.

There’s little doubt that there will be much to tackle in 2019, and while current topics – such as product trends and recycling – are set to continue to be talking points throughout the year ahead, wider implications will also impact on the windows industry.

The entire industry felt the effect of unusual and unpredicted sales patterns during 2018, with a quieter than normal first part of the year followed by an extremely busy latter part of the year. Due to the political uncertainty around Brexit, I see the familiar sales patterns we are so used to seeing year on year being quite different during 2019.

For us at Rehau, and the wider industry as a whole, it is vital to be prepared for whatever the outcome of Brexit. Rehau is in a position of strength being a UK manufacturer. However, our Rehau Brexit committee continues to focus on all possible issues that our industry may face and how we can ensure an uninterrupted supply to our customers.

There could well be further implications from Brexit as well, such as concerns around the number of skilled and unskilled labourers able to work within the UK from the continent. This may or may not be a concern for the industry dependent on the type of deal the government secures, but this issue sits closely to the wider focus on securing new and young talent into the fenestration industry.

It’s well known that our industry is an ageing one, but we know there is investment in developing robust apprenticeship programmes to ensure the future of the windows workforce at all stages. At Rehau, we’re investing in the next generation with our own apprenticeship training programmes and envisage that this will be something we should continue to discuss into the future.

As we look towards, and invest in, what future generations of the workforce will look like, we are also going through a period of change in the way that we live, particularly at home.

Smart living – and the use of innovative products that can be controlled remotely or from a central system to make our homes work better for us, increase energy efficiency and improve security – is a trend that will be a focus this year. Rehau is already seeing product development within this arena as consumer demand for connected windows grow. As we progress into 2019 and beyond, we expect this conversation will increase and we’ll be discussing new developments in our portfolio.

I also expect to see the continued rise in popularity of anthracite grey in the colour sphere, having seen this colour overtaking rosewood to become the most popular colour in 2018.

Sustainability will remain a hot topic as consumers steadily become more focused on their own impact on the environment.

And style trends alongside material use will always be a favourite topic of our industry – so expect to see us all still talking about these subjects.

2018 was a record-breaking year for many within our industry. The year ahead looks to be just as promising but not without its challenges (anyone with a crystal ball would be a very rich person right now).

Rehau has many exciting developments coming in 2019 that the industry has been waiting for, so watch this space.