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Keep the future bright for composites

There’s no denying that composite doors have been good for the UK window and door market over the last few years. Through times of recession they have continued to provide consistent volume growth and profit returns. Current predictions place future growth in the retail sector at 252,000 units in 2014, from the current 215,000 units, and this is something we have already witnessed for ourselves through our partnerships with some of the UK’s leading composite door manufacturers.

However, as more and more companies are able to enter this market – thanks, in the main, to the ease of manufacture, with high quality imported slabs readily available – competition will no doubt increase. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, we must be mindful of the potential risks. The industry has seen with so many ‘big new things’ in the past, a race to the bottom as new entrants believe that they will only take volume by selling at lower prices than the current suppliers. This needn’t be the case, however, if product offerings can be clearly differentiated and consumers are sold the features and benefits rather than simply being offered the lowest price.

Differentiating products which all start life as the same basic door slab is the key to maintaining margins, adding value and creating a finished product that consumers will pay a price premium for. This can be most easily achieved with the introduction of new glazing styles, hardware choices, decorative glass options or colour.

We have been supplying decorative glass units to the composite door market for the past seven years, initially with our imported Signature units and since 2009 with the addition of our UK manufacturing arm at Decorative Door Products. During this time we’ve seen the consumer appetite for composite doors grow significantly, and with it the demand for highly quality, interesting decorative glass options that set the door apart from the social housing offering where this market originated.

With average installed retail values still approaching £1,000 for a composite door, there is plenty of opportunity to give the consumer something that really stands out from the crowd. This level of pricing will not be achieved by offering – as we have already witnessed some companies do – cheaper alternatives using plastics, for example, instead of glass. By taking away around £15 of cost on a typical doorset, what is also being taken away from the customer? We believe the best way to maintain margins is by adding value, not taking it away. Our sales patterns reflect this, with better aesthetics outselling basic glass designs time and again.

We have also seen this first hand, with the latest addition to the Signature glass range. ReflectionsTM, which uses black chrome cameing, and 100% bevelled glass in a subtle sandblast and grey combination, was launched the glass at our Open House event in September, where it was met with great acclaim, and early sales have already surpassed any previous range launch.  This is admittedly the most expensive glass we have ever marketed, but it is also the one which offers the biggest bang for the buck. After all, the more decorative and high quality the glass, the more it will sell. We have seen this historically through our work in the US market where glass choice is the primary driver when choosing a new door and decorative glass designs are not only more elaborate but also carry a much higher price tag.

Equally popular as a differentiated product is our Inox Glazing system, which has generated a fantastic response since its launch earlier this year. The stainless steel glazing system is popular for its strong European influenced style, which provides a new and modern alternative to traditional composite glazing systems for a genuinely contemporary looking door.

Inox has the added benefit that it is simple to manufacture using a 44mm flush composite slab which you can purchase from any number of the leading composite door suppliers. Plus, we can offer a turnkey solution that includes CNC programming information, glazing method and of course the stainless steel glazing frames themselves. For customers buying in prepped slabs, we have worked closely with Distinction Doors who can now offer their flush slab with apertures cut for the full range of styles available. To complement the contemporary European feel Inox Glazing provides, we have also created a wide range of decorative glass options made from fused and etched glass which work wonderfully with these door designs.

But it’s not just about the aesthetics, we appreciate that quality standards hold equal importance. Our customers can rest assured that we test to the most stringent regulations for glass units, and we have been offering 6.8mm as standard where laminated glass is specified for some time in preparation for the recent changes to Secured by Design and PAS 24 standards which now specify P1A laminated glass. Additionally, all our Signature products come with gas filling and Low E as standard.

We are committed to continuing to develop and introduce products that we know will give our customers the competitive edge in a tough marketplace, and by building on a proven growth product by adding value through decoration, we can help you put in the groundwork to stand apart from the crowd, no matter what the future holds.

For more information on decorative products for glass, windows and doors from RegaLead visit www.regalead.co.uk or call 0161 946 1164. For more information about decorative products for composite doors from Decorative Door Products visit www.doorglass.co.

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