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Glazing Clippings and Musings April 2016 by Helen Duval

This month there can hardly be a bigger subject to cover than that of the FIT Show in Telford. Well, maybe there is one bigger, ongoing discussion but for now, let’s focus on ‘The Show’.

As the industry pulled together to highlight innovations and new products, exhibitors seemed extremely positive about the results achieved during the three day exhibition, with many taking the time to exhibit and visit..

Catching up with our own customers there was a genuinely positive feeling that the show was one of the best platforms to present new products to existing and potential customers.

Mark Walker, Marketing Manager at Selecta Systems commented that there had been real value for the company in attending, with the show being an extremely busy time for the team. He classed it “a golden opportunity to demonstrate product launches such as a completely new range of decorative glass designs for the updated Composite Door range; and new marketing initiatives including The Exclusive Collection brochure.” Mark stated that he expected these will give Selecta customers viable advantages over competitors, – but more on that later in the magazine.

Clearly no-one had been shy about spending with a massive effort put in by every exhibitor. It was a job really well done. The frameXpress Ltd team stepped out in uniform style, then spent a busy few days supporting the Epwin Group’s launch of the Optima system, with Ian Davis and Dave Stearman commenting, “We have added another great system to our arsenal. Our customers have been impressed with the on-stand display models we produced, so it literally is, all systems go in terms of Optima. Regarding the show, almost every stand had some pretty impressive innovations or product updates on display, with some of our suppliers such as Maco and Distinction Doors, having launched some excellent new ideas that will be very beneficial to our customers.”

Dave Stearman stated, “Being overwhelmed by the positive response to Optima’s launch, we were kept on our toes throughout the show but I was genuinely surprised at how much there was being exhibited on every single stand here”. On talking to Gerald Allen from the Epwin Group, the FIT Show had proved the ideal arena to launch the new profile system, with positive reviews all round and the event considered a major success by the company.

On stepping up to talk to Andy Jones, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Synseal, it would seem the exhibition was perfectly timed to introduce not one but a number of new products and developments onto the market. Whilst chatting, Andy was evidently pleased with the launch of the much anticipated Warmcore aluminium window system as well as the Masterdor solid timber Craftsman door range on the largest stand at the expo. By all accounts, the product launches were extremely well received by visitors and the stand was certainly buzzing when I visited. Andy stated that he felt the show had been brilliantly executed and really motivational as a positive event for the whole team and customers alike.

A Touch of Magic

Likewise for the team, we were kept in demand with Nick Padley and our lovely presenter Jo, making the interview rounds on a number of stands, with barely a pause for breath in between discussions. We brought our own touch of magic to proceedings with Ian Lavin joining us, who managed to keep visitors entertained and up to date on our developments and success stories at the same time.

However, a show is nothing without the footfall figures to back it up, but it was clear from the bustle around the Telford International Centre that the organisers had succeeded in attracting the attention of the glazing industry crowd and gained a warm reception in the process.

In a bid to gauge an early response, I spoke to a few visitors who stated that they had not been disappointed at making the effort to attend. Clive Ellis and I were enjoying a coffee and a chat on the Rehau stand, which gave all of us there quite a view. Clive, who is Sales Manager at Euroglaze Systems felt that timing was everything, knowing that there had been enough space in between exhibitions for the market to diversify and develop new concepts. For that reason he considered it was a valid reason to visit the show and to see where the industry was heading next. Meanwhile, Patrick Frawley, Director of Britannic Trade Frames Ltd considered it a day well spent where he could evaluate new trends and advantages that he could pass on to customers.

The advancements in product innovation have been built upon years of research and development by industry specialists in a niche sector, which was obvious to anyone who visited. It was evident this month that the industry was invigorated and still has huge potential. For example, the combination of chic, flush fitting system solutions, or new glazing cassettes that provide a better aesthetic and the ground-breaking, electronically tintable glass for windows, skylights and curtain walls are all exceptionally exciting prospects that I will look forward to exploring further.

Looking Forward …Or Are We?

As we head towards a potentially turbulent time on the political stage, the recent televised ‘Brexit’ or ‘Bremain’ debates, leave us pretty clear about one thing. Uncertainty. Whilst the televised shows I’m sure garnered substantial viewing ratings, with tailored questions and selected audiences – uncertainty and trepidation is evident. Huge uncertainty continues to dominate the discussions. Just what would a post EU Britain look like? How long will it take us to leave if that is the decision we all make? Consequently, this uncertainty is now filtering into the residential property market.

In a recent article, Richard Donnell, Director of Research and Insight at Hometrack stated “If we vote to stay in, it’ll be back to business relatively quickly. If we vote to leave, I don’t think anyone has quite worked out what all that means, other than more uncertainty.”

Whilst some consider that a Brexit may have little impact on the domestic housing market as the supply and demand chain will remain, once Boris Johnson made his commitment to the out campaign, there was a staggering international reaction, one which saw the £ sterling fall to a seven year low against the US dollar.

Overall the construction sector has seemed reluctant to get involved in the debate at all, and while Michael Gove continues to insist that whatever happens, “we’d be part of a European free trade area” which covers every European country apart from Belarus; he refuses to be drawn about whether the UK would continue to be part of the single market.

As a hugely, politically charged topic, the next couple of months will continue to be saturated in strategies and heated discussions that will have massive bearing upon the construction sector.

A ‘no’ vote has the potential to remove freedom of movement and could further embellish issues associated with poorly skilled workers, in a currently fragile market that remains highly reactive economically. As a country we have now become reliant on a migrant workforce and this has been happening for decades. This was highlighted by The Guardian newspaper last year, which focused an article on the declining number of new workers from school coming into the construction market. This was further substantiated by an article in The Telegraph which commented that lack of skilled labour is holding back construction in the UK.

This is a subject that will have us all either quietly musing or loudly berating one side or another and discussion is important. We are keen to hear your thoughts on where you see the industry heading, regarding ‘Brexit or Bremain’, so please do get in touch with your views – probably there has never been a more important time for debate.

Written by Helen Duval 2016

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