Proactive approach in a difficult market

Premier Architectural Joinery.
Premier Architectural Joinery.

Investment in products and customer research is growing despite rising raw material costs and slowing sales growth, according to the BWF’s Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2017.

A balance of 33% of respondents reported an increase in sales volumes over the last quarter, with 41% reporting an increase over the last year. This corresponds with the 44% of respondents reporting a quarterly increase in the previous survey.

According to the survey, manufacturers felt that sales volumes would improve in the next quarter, with a balance of 34% predicting an increase for Q1 2018, and a balance of 30% predicting an increase over the next year.

BWF policy and communications executive Matt Mahony said: “Sales are still growing at a reasonable rate and there are no indications of a sudden decline for the British woodworking industry despite the pessimism around construction from some quarters. Slightly fewer order books extending beyond three months and consecutive quarters of lowered sales growth expectations conceal the reality which is that our members have been selling products and adapting to the higher costs that have now unfortunately become the new norm.”

68% of respondents felt that Brexit-related uncertainty had affected their business so far with 67% of those noting that the cost of raw materials was where it had impacted. A third felt that Brexit negotiations would have a negative impact on their business in the next 12 months.

“It’s hugely encouraging to see joinery manufacturers taking a proactive approach to growing their market,” Matt said. “Investment in e-business is set to increase by half and customer research is anticipated to double. More than two-thirds of members will be investing more in product improvement.”