Where there’s a cloud

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell wonders if the latest round of market reports do the glass and glazing industry justice.

If you are into market reports and forecasts, then you can really fill your boots this week.

As always, there appears to be some conflicting news, but taken with the reports that have been crossing my desk over the course of the year, there is definitely a theme emerging – which is a robust house-building sector, dwindling confidence among clients, increasing costs of raw materials, reduced margins, and a lack of skilled labour.

However, when I speak to companies in the course of my working week, overall confidence tends to be positive. Yes, they tend to echo the last three points – expensive raw materials, reduced margins, and lack of training – but I’ve not seen any real evidence of a contracting market. I’m not saying it isn’t happening within our sector, but I’m seeing a lot of investment from companies that are preparing for expansion and growth.

Just last week I visited Unique Windows in Leicester, which has effected a massive investment programme that will double capacity. That was followed by a trip to Selecta in Birmingham that is investing in its extrusion lines to maintain the quality of its products and meet the demands of its growing fabricator customer base.

I appreciate that a company is unlikely to welcome me in to discuss how the bottom is falling out of the market, and they are about to go under. However, I do get to hear about the bad stuff, but (without giving too much away) failures – historic or pending – can be put down to forces other than difficult trading conditions.

Yes, there are clouds on the horizon, but with the right focus and determination, there are still plenty of opportunities.