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Glazing Clippings and Musings February 2016 by Helen Duval

As we gear up for what promises to be another excellent exhibition season, the FIT show is the hot topic of the moment for the glazing sector. It looks as though once again the Telford International Centre in April will be brimming with exhibitors, keen to generate leads and inspire investment in new and improved solutions for the market.

Enterprising innovators are promising great things at FIT in relation to product design that will impress specifiers and invigorate sales on the domestic front. It certainly seems that the industry is energised and there are some positive developments expected to be launched that will spark debate and industry evolution. It looks to be a great show in the making and well worth a visit.

Before this, another couple of favourites loom on the horizon which promise to bring into focus the needs of the consumer as well as those of the energy conscious developers and DIY enthusiasts. Ecobuild at ExCeL in London and the Home Renovation Show at the NEC in Birmingham both run in early March this year – certainly, it will be interesting to discover the views of the speakers ‘with opinion’ at Ecobuild as they focus on the materials, practices and thinking which could shape our future living prospects.

Smart buildings that operate without human intervention is still a topic that I approach with trepidation, however provocative views from a variety of experts including David Hancock, Head of Construction at the UK Cabinet Office; Andrew McNaughton, Director of Engineering at Tidal Lagoon Power; and Sam Martin, Director at Exterior Architecture will be intriguing at the very least.

Another date for the industry’s diary is the next PIGS event for those keen to catch up with movers and shakers. Organised by the Balls2Marketing team, the sponsors for the next event on 3rd March 2016 in Manchester include the GGF, The Fit Show, Edgetech and WindowWare.

By Royal Appointment
In terms of business, the EU referendum seems to dominate so many sectors at the moment with murmurs, ponderings and ‘what ifs’ all prolific topics for discussion across board room tables. Even Kensington Palace has been brought into focus on the debate, with Prince William challenged about his stance on the subject. After the Duke of Cambridge used a speech at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier this month where he emphasised the importance of our “ability to unite in common action with other nations”, his possible leaning towards remaining in the Union was quickly refuted by a Kensington Palace spokesman, who insisted that Prince William’s speech was not about Europe. “He does not mention the word Europe once.” Well, I’m hoping he is not using the same press secretary as Hilary Clinton!

Joking aside, whatever your political persuasion, apparently things are boding well here in the UK in the business sector, where according to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment fell by 60,000 across the UK between October and December last year. Figures stood at 1.69 million with the rate of unemployment being unchanged and it being maintained at a decade-low rate. Currently, more than 31.4 million people are in work, the highest figures since records began in 1971, however, according to ONS statistician Nick Palmer, growth in salaries is still slow.

At the moment, Government ministers are concerned about the Tier 2 migrant numbers regarding our skilled workforce, which is born from our reliance on them to fill shortages in the labour market. The Migration Advisory Committee – the independent public body which advises on migration related issues – has been asked to investigate possible changes to the Tier 2 visa requirements.

In a recent article, it was stated that the committee “strongly” supports the introduction of the so-called Immigration Skills Charge to incentivise employers in order to reduce their reliance on migrant workers and encourage them to invest in training British workers.

Professor Sir David Metcalf, committee chairman, said that whilst skilled migrant workers make important contributions to our economy that “raising the cost of employing skilled migrants via higher pay thresholds, and the introduction of an immigration skills charge, should lead to greater investment in UK employees and reduce the use of migrant labour.”

Meanwhile Neil Carberry, of the business lobby group, CBI, stated that “training British-based people to do jobs where there were shortages was the long-term solution.”

Strong Foundations
On the construction front, whilst Robert Palmer from Hampshire has been jailed for six months for running a firm while disqualified from acting as a director; and Kensington and Chelsea Council has agreed a new Code of Construction Practice, whereby noisy building work will not be allowed on the weekend after local residents complained – there are plenty of positive stories regarding projects in the pipeline.

South London’s Lambeth College project has named Carillion as its development partner in respect of a key, new college complex, that will be part of a mixed-use scheme in Vauxhall.

Carillion will provide a major vocational skills centre under the college funding plan that will be primarily for construction trades together with capital receipts from the sale of the private apartments, affordable housing and a hotel.

It is expected that a Lambeth College Skills Centre for vocational learning will be built that could incorporate a training hotel, restaurant and conference facilities.

Meanwhile leading developer, Sager, has confirmed Galliard Construction as the principal contractor for its £400m Islington Square development.

The company now will supervise the demolition of the 1960’s block whilst the fit out of the new tenant facilities will start in early 2017, with completion expected towards the end of that year. 263 residential apartments, 108 serviced apartments and 170,000 square feet of luxury lifestyle brands and restaurants alongside a Third Space Health Club and Odeon Lounge cinema will be developed.

Across the glazing sector there have been some noticeable milestones recently including Morley Glass celebrating its 500th Customer Training Programme, the retirement of Mark Richmond as Sales Director at Selecta, as well as the appointment of Terry Grant, who recently joined the Liniar sales team. Additionally, machinery company Wegoma has changed its name to Avantek Machinery Ltd.

Wheel See!
On closing it would be rude to ignore the other great subject for debate which has appeared over the last few months – the new Top Gear team! This has obviously left me deliberating. I am convinced, given the amount of mileage this industry covers, both nationally and internationally, that there has to be a slot for a sales team challenge somewhere on their track. Further ideas on a postcard please.

If I’m honest, whether you loved or loathed Clarkson et al, a change was due and what a change it will be… Sabine Schmitz, Eddie Jordan and Matt LeBlanc, …even though it has been said that he is always stuck in second gear. (It had to be done!). They are petrolheads all, and as I discussed with a colleague recently, I can’t wait to see what they will bring to our screens. If nothing else it will be a very welcome breath of adrenalin-fuelled, high-speed, automotive shenanigans. What’s not to like?

Written by Helen Duval, 2016.

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