The end of PVCU as we know it?

Aluminium continues to see significant growth forecasts. So, where does this leave PVCU fabricators? Ian Cocken, director of sales and marketing at Aluplast, discusses.

The Window, Door and Conservatory Markets in Housing in Great Britain’, published in October 2016 by Palmer Market Research, isn’t comfortable reading. A flattening of the market in 2015 saw total volume fall by 0.7%.

Although this was offset by a shift towards higher-end products and higher value installations, which delivered a 2% increase in installed value to £4.2 billion, Palmer warned of the potential fall-out from Brexit during 2017.

“The Brexit vote has radically changed our view,” the report said. “We now believe growth in house prices – and in particular new build house prices – will slow during Brexit negotiations.”

But it’s Palmer’s analysis of far longer term trends which are perhaps most illuminating. Although PVCU continues to dominate the window and door market, it’s aluminium which has seen sustained growth.

In installed terms, aluminium saw growth of 8% in 2015 to £370 million. Track that back and aluminium has seen growth of 37% since 2008, while the market as a whole is down 2% in the same period.

No wonder then, that a growing number of PVCU fabricators are choosing to add aluminium lines to their operations.

However, we need to keep a level of perspective. PVCU still accounted for 82% of market share last year but clearly aluminium is seeing growth and given other areas of market challenge, that’s a real positive.

Aluplast’s core offer is built around the Ideal 70 system. The five-chamber suite was designed and developed specifically for the UK market. What it borrows from the continent, is Aluplast’s wider expertise in the development of energy efficient products and expertise in low cost extrusion manufacture.

With a choice of a 24mm to 44mm glazing option, the slim line ovolo profile easily accommodates triple-glazed systems. This means that it achieves a low U-value with an ultra-low u-value and WERs A++ rating, with standard components.

A competitive price point, multiple sales platforms including the ultra ‘green’ Ideal 70 ecotech and a highly competitive foiling service, offering 15-days or less on special foils with no set-up charges, have rapidly extended our reach within the UK.

So why would I be eulogising about the growth opportunities being delivered by aluminium?

If it represents an opportunity, PVCU fabricators are going to add aluminium lines to their operations. Why wouldn’t they? But that takes investment in machinery. We’re able to offer them access to a hybrid PVCU core/aluminium-clad cross-over system, which allows them to deliver an aluminium aesthetic without investment in specialist machinery.

Aluplast launched the new Ideal 4000 SquareLine Casement system in October last year. Defined by a squareline detailing, it forms a competitive PVCU window offering in its own right, lending itself to residential new-build and commercial sectors.

It’s Aluskin, however, our ‘click-and-fix’ aluminium cladding system, that elevates this solid PVCU offering to a new strata.

The simple ‘click-and-fix’ system allows PVCU fabricators to manufacture an aluminium-clad PVCU window and door system without major investment in specialist machinery. In doing so it not only levels the playing field in PVCU manufacture but also gives fabricators new reach into not only mainstream but premium residential and commercial markets.

Ideal 4000 has been developed for the UK market. In pairing it with Aluskin we’re giving fabricators and installers access to an established aluminium cladding system, which is already used widely across Europe.

What Ideal 4000 and Aluskin gives you as a PVCU fabricator is low cost access to the aluminium market with no machinery costs, less disruption to your core business and the opportunity to pitch an energy efficient ‘aluminium’ system.

In both its PVCU and aluminium clad forms, it’s fully tested to Part Q, PAS24:2012 and Secured by Design Specifications. With five thermally efficient PVCU chambers, the Ideal 4000, ‘dressed or undressed’ with Aluskin aluminium cladding, also easily achieves a WER A+.

The ceiling on the aluminium sector’s growth is going to be defined by its ability to deliver against increasing demands for energy efficiency at an affordable price point.

As a very best case scenario, this is something which is going to erode margin. Ideal 4000 and Aluskin is a thermally efficient, cost-effective and potentially very high margin solution.