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Glazing Clippings and Musings August 2016 by Helen Duval

As many grab the opportunity to head off for warmer climes to enjoy some Summer sunshine and relax, it will be interesting to see whether they are as extravagant as they would like to be when spending their hard earned cash, given the new interest rate cut announced by Mark Carney.

Although many were expecting the announcement, the Bank of England has also pledged a “package of measures designed to provide additional monetary stimulus”.

So what is the knock on effect for business?

Howard Graham, CEO of Made Simple Group stated recently about the interest rate cut:

“This is welcome news for small businesses and start-ups, who will benefit from cheaper borrowing – vital when you consider that sourcing finance is one of the first hurdles when setting up a new company.

“For these companies, the ability to borrow at a lower rate could make a huge difference to their prospects over the next few months. In turn, this could be a shot in the arm for the economy.”

Meanwhile Angus Den, CEO of ArchOver commented:

“While this reduction may seem a good idea in some respects, the move to stimulate the market to borrow more and save less sends a strong message of ‘no confidence’. Any small and medium enterprise considering raising money is unlikely to be swayed by a cut of 0.25% when rates are already at historic lows.

“If anything, they will interpret the move as one that creates uncertainty and supports the view that the UK is about to talk itself into recession after the Brexit vote. A more positive message might have been achieved by putting interest rates up.”

Market research company GfK recently stated that it saw the biggest fall in consumer confidence for 21 years when it polled members of the public after the EU referendum.  We are certainly living in fluctuating times and for the glazing and building sectors, there has never been a more pertinent need to get the message out there regarding performance and security.

Reaching out to the consumer has become critical when looking for growth, with so many aiming their marketing messages in that direction.  Now with the Bank of England cutting interest rates to an all time low this could have serious consequences for the unprepared.

As we head towards one of the most volatile and uncertain periods since the global financial crash it is nigh on impossible to determine what sort of impact that rate cut will have and where or when it could happen.  Obviously, the Bank of England must be hoping that investors fears will ease and that markets will stabilise all whilst hoping that consumers will continue to spend, with the ultimate goal of avoiding a recession.

What does this all mean for the self build and custom-builders? Michael Holmes,  the chair of the NaCSBA commented that in the short-term some may wait to see what happens to the economy  before making any big purchasing decisions, but if there is limited change he hoped that things will stabilise fairly quickly.

More Opportunities

There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities on the horizon for encouraging spending with exhibition season once again in full swing.  The NSBRC is holding another ‘Ask an Architect’ event in Swindon, which offers self builders the opportunity to discuss individual design ideas with a RIBA chartered architect.  This is certainly a great opportunity for those looking to create better use of light and storage whilst adding value to their homes.

Another interesting event taking place from 11-13 September in London is Top Drawer, which is a leading design-led event that features a Home Section which is divided into interior accessories, Kitchen and Dining, Furniture and Lighting as well as Outdoor Living.  Internationally recognised brands will be there alongside smaller start-ups to inspire homeowners to invest, so for those looking to push out the performance through design aspects then this could be the show  to visit.

Once again the London Homebuilding & Renovating Show will also be opening its doors in September and is on many people’s calendars as one of the biggest events for those trying to convince consumers to invest in their products.

In other news, the Passivhaus Trust (PHT) has announced the winners of the UK Passivhaus Awards 2016 which were launched to celebrate original and individual eco house design, with the idea of minimising energy required to heat or cool a home.

PHT members voted online as well as at an awards ceremony on 7 July in London where Lansdowne Drive by Tectonics Architects and Tigh na Croit by HLM Architects won the Urban and Rural categories.

The Royal Institute of British Architects  (RIBA) recently announced the longlist for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year Award, with 20 architect-designed homes in the running for the prestigious award.  Amongst the nominations are a contemporary part-house part-gallery on the beach
in Brighton & Hove (The Narrow House), a Japanese inspired terraced house extension (House of Trace), and a new family home in Jersey rising from the huge granite walls of an earlier building on the site (Le Petit Fort), whilst a contemporary take on a lean-to in Harrogate are all in the running.

Taking A Closer Look

For the glazing sector specifically, the doors of Glasstec will once again be swinging open to highlight innovative developments in glass processing and smart glass technology. Many leading lights are due to attend including Hegla,  Bystronic, Guardian Glass, CMS, Bohle and Bovone to name a few.  So it would seem that the sector is keen and eager to shake off fears regarding future investment in the sector.

So to finish where I started regarding the buoyancy of the industry, it still seems to be boding well.  The Bank of England does of course, have more guns in its arsenal with a further cut in the base rate to zero possible or it could increase its quantitative easing programme further still.  This sector has ridden some pretty tough waves over the years and has come through shining.

So, whatever happens next, it certainly won’t be boring.

Written by Helen Duval 2016

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