On 10 September four industry professionals went head to head to discuss some of the issues they see facing the composite door market today in the Great Composite Door Debate, hosted by TV presenter Michelle Orpe. Although it’s one of the few growth sectors in our industry, it brings with it a new set of challenges which the four participants, each with an interest in composites, discussed at length at this roundtable event.
“Across the array of issues discussed on the day, there weren’t many disagreements amongst our professionals,” says Fiona Lund of Brouha Marketing, organisers of the event with MyTrade TV, “but we’re expecting some of the content to create a stir among viewers.”
Guy Hubble at Regalead, one of the participating companies says: “Composite doors have proved lucrative for everyone involved to date, but that can only be sustained if we hold our nerve as an industry and keep the added value in the product. It’s easy to forget as the norm shifts that the entrance door is no longer the poor relation of windows. The composite door is sold as a product in its own right now, rather than an after thought to a houseful of windows. Regalead helps its customers keep added value in their doors with our decorative glass units, specialist paint techniques and stainless steel glazing system.”
Roger Benton from HOPPE (UK) adds: “The entire market had to shift when composite doors gathered pace, to ensure the end product offered the consumer something different and something they would be prepared to pay for. But this shift came with challenges for suppliers – not only to design something new to fit the overall product seamlessly, but also to ensure the new designs were made to last. Composite doors came with longer guarantees than PVC doors, so needed a completely new approach which we discussed in more detail in this debate.”
One of the main discussion points centred around maintaining margins on the product as another of the participants, Mark Atkinson from Hurst, explains: “To date composite doors have not only offered installers a means of boosting sales, they have also achieved excellent margins. The trouble is, as more consumers have a composite door on the front of their house, the more we need to differentiate the product for new customers who want something different from Mrs Smith next door. The question is how we do that while maintaining margins. Component products offering a world of variation are definitely available to differentiate so I think we all agreed in this discussion that cutting prices wasn’t the answer. I’m sure there will be installers that disagree but consumers are aspirational and are prepared to pay more for a high quality product. I’m sure the cynics will accuse us of simply trying to maintain our own margins but the truth is there are enough margins in this popular product for everyone involved. I’m sure our customers would agree that it would be detrimental for us to peel back the specification of our doors to remove cost because I honestly believe consumers will choose the higher specification door for more money over the lower specification, cheaper option.”
David Gomersall from Distinction Doors agreed: “We all have to remember that we are dealing with a more discerning consumer now. We should be embracing the fact we have a product that people want and are happy to pay for, rather than trying to undercut the competition. Composite doors offer the homeowner so much – as well as the aesthetic and security benefits they’ve been sold on for a while, they now also come with Door Energy Ratings, decorative glass and Designer door furniture to differentiate one door from another. Each of these components also allow installers to demand more money for the optional extras. I strongly believe the industry should be working as a collective to educate the consumer about the options available to them, in order to maintain the existing margins we have all enjoyed from composite doors.”
The footage of the debate can be seen in installments in this and future editions of MyTrade TV.
Please get in touch and let us know what you think by signing in on the home page top right corner and leaving your comments in the comment box underneath.
story has been viewed