The Beginning Of The End or a New Dawn?
The industry could be forgiven for reacting with a sense of unease about the recent surge of change in company ownership and brand leaders, acquisitions and closures. Someone even commented last week that it feels like we’re poised on the edge of a cliff reminiscent of 2007, the start of a big meltdown. However, today’s market is nothing like ten years ago and - albeit tentative - green shoots of economic recovery are appearing. Unemployment is at its lowest since 1975 and the pound is at a 15-month high against the dollar after the Bank of England fuelled speculation about pending rate rises.
While herd mentality can be hard to resist, we must not talk markets down because of an inherent fear of change. With change comes opportunity and the key is spotting the right opportunities: this means finding the right products, for the right people, at the right time. We need to understand who we are selling to; who has the money available and wants to spend. We need to differentiate between the haves and have nots. Sales can only grow in a cautious or uncertain market when a meaningful point of difference can be achieved. In the current environment, this means moving away from a reliance on commodity sales to the potential offered by added-value products.
Deceuninck can offer evidence that white, square product is now a commodity; the value is in colour. All our major customers up – and up significantly - on last year. They attribute their success to wholeheartedly embracing the abundant added-value home improvement products we offer, like the flush sash, colour options from stock, and Heritage Window Collection.
A wiser man than me once said: ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’ Regardless of market conditions, there will always be winners and losers. Our industry is not going to end. The winners will be the ones who take a good look at their business and ask what they can do differently; what they can do better. The losers will bury their heads in the sand and carry on doing what they’ve always done.
Rob McGlennon, MD Deceuninck UK