Success despite challenging year

SupaLite’s technical director Alan Watters discusses how the company tackled the challenges in 2020, and how the future looks.

As has been the case for most businesses, 2020 was hugely stressful, certainly through the first lockdown.

When the challenges you face not only affect your customers and their customers, but your staff too, it adds an extra pressure, particularly when the crisis is something you have never had to navigate before.

After a solid start to the year, having to close operations in March was tough, and through that time we supported staff as much as we could and kept customers informed every step of the way.

When we opened our operations again, we were able to hit the ground running and celebrated record levels of sales. It’s no secret that the home improvement industry has been much stronger than most industries in the second half of the year as consumers’ attentions turned to their homes during the lockdown.

Despite the supply chain challenges the industry has faced recently, with demand outstripping supply, we have managed to still offer our 7-10-day lead times, which has been testament to the strength of our supply chain partnerships.

We have kept on investing in the business. We felt it was important not to rest on our laurels so used the enforced time out to look at the business and see how we could make it even better.

More and more customers are wanting to access complete roofs, so we invested around £300,000 in a second new Haffner machining centre at our headquarters in Preston to meet that rising demand, as well as investing in improving our manufacturing software to increase efficiency.

And we also invested in new staff, increasing our workforce by 30% since May to continuing to deliver the level of service our customers have come to expect.

We also decided to look again at our SkyVista roof; the goal is to make it better for our customers by reducing installation times. Our kit-based roof systems have been hugely popular with our installers, but we wanted to make things even easier for them. The high-performance solid tiled roof with full-length glazed feature panels will be updated in the first quarter of 2021

Despite the uncertainty around Brexit, I’m expecting the home improvement market to continue to thrive in general, and the replacement conservatory roof sector to continue to grow.

With major holidays abroad off the cards for many next year as the world looks to get back to some form of normality, homeowners will have money to spend and home improvements will undoubtedly benefit.

Demand has been increasing thanks to a desire from homeowners for conservatories and orangeries, and that popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

Our roof systems will continue to help fabricators and installers across the country win new business, as quality retro-fit products to replace tired conservatory or orangery roofs, or a high-performance solution for exciting new-build projects.

For us, it’s all about providing our customers with the service and products that will help them grow their business in 2021.

Big changes are being implemented internally to provide our customers with much more support. We are changing the way we do business: our customers will notice in coming weeks that a greater emphasis is being placed on improving our communications and providing real-time information.

With that in mind, we are planning to add to our exceptional product range and launch some new products in the next year to strengthen our offering and give our customers an additional competitive advantage.

With more and more people set to work from home and spend more time at home, we want to give our trade partners new markets to tap into.

2020 has been a successful year for us, despite the challenges the industry and economy has faced, and 2021 is set to be an exciting one, and will mark the beginning of the next chapter in SupaLite’s history.