A rather belated New Year greeting and as most commentators have already said, 2015 would appear to be continuing the welcome trend of improving business in the industry.
However, we can never be too rash in forecasting as a Glenigan report earlier this month, pointed out. It noted that ‘a pause in residential activity saw construction growth flatline in the fourth quarter of 2014’. Nevertheless, the Glenigan data suggested the industry remains in a strong position going into 2015, backed by 10% growth in project starts last year which matched pre-recession.
If one adds the uncertainty of the forthcoming General Election in May, then we are in for an interesting period. No matter what the configuration of the next government, there are unlikely to be any significant change in economic fortunes for the rest of this year, given the usual time lags that occur. With the cushion of such a dramatic fall in wholesale oil and gas prices, we may very well see a surge in economic activity. There is the caveat, of course, on how government revenues are going to perform.
How to judge these impacts on the UK as they affect the fenestration sector is a moot point as was pointed out by Nigel Rees when he addressed the press at the Media Lunch last month. The Glass and Glazing federation (GGF) Chief Executive admitted that how the year would pan out would be extremely hard to predict. There were good aspects, such as low inflation and an apparent pick up but disappointments, most notably with the Green Deal. Failing to persuade the government to accept energy efficient windows deserving a lowering of VAT to 5%, was hardly surprising but worth repeating by Rees.
We can’t pretend to be on the verge of a golden dawn, or that we’ll be dancing in the streets. The last thing needed is a return to ‘boom’ as I seem to have said since I started writing about them turning inevitably into ‘busts’ from the late 1980s onwards. But then we always seem to prefer the myths of being invulnerable or unsinkable when it comes to seeing the rocks or icebergs ahead, preferring to hear the ship’s band or Nero playing on his lyre, to more urgent strains.
I know I would rather be on Captain Pugwash’s Black Pig than the unsinkable Titanic any day but that is down to the buccaneer in me.
Caption Whatever we do this year, we must try and avoid rocks and floating dangers to avoid that sinking feeling.