Should we be confident about the year ahead? The short answer to that is ‘yes’!” says Mike Parczuk, Managing Director.
“The high levels of demand that we experienced in 2020, a direct result of Covid-19 restrictions that encouraged homeowners to focus their attention and spare cash on home improvements, resulted in unprecedented levels of activity throughout the industry.
“That demand has been carried through into 2021, and from what we are seeing, it’s been given an additional boost with the introduction of lockdown 3 at the start of the new year.”
Mike’s comment’s follow recent reports from the Bank of England that UK households accrued around £100bn in excess savings last year, with chief economist, Andy Haldane, highlighting that ‘huge’ pent-up demand with consumers could help the economy recover at a much greater speed than first expected.
This coincides with the latest statistics from the Business Pilot Barometer – which delivers a monthly breakdown of data from the retail sector – that reveals a 34% jump in sales and an increase of 111% in new leads in January.
That’s in addition to a recent market report from AMA Research, that identifies a distinct V shaped recovery for the industry by the end of 2021, and which also singles out a number of distinct opportunities at the premium end of the market, including for aluminium.
“Aluminium continues to rise in popularity, and we can’t see demand slowing anytime soon,” says Mike. “Again, that is positive news, but it does come with a word of warning, because not all manufacturers are set up to supply aluminium at volume,” he continues.
“Installers need to be able to rely on their suppliers to deliver consistent high quality product, on decent lead times or else they run the risk of losing out on business, or worse, suffering long term reputational damage.”
Our aluminium offering includes the Smart Visofold bi-fold and Smart Visoglide inline slider, along with the Smart Alitherm 300, a system that is suitable for both residential and light commercial applications. Featuring an extended polyamide thermal break, it can achieve a WER A Rating or U-value as low as 1.5W/m2K.
Thanks to significant investment on a dedicated aluminium factory, we are able to offer our Smart Visofold aluminium bi-fold, in standard RAL Grey, Black and White and Dual Grey on White – plus our Smart Alitherm 300 casement window in RAL White and Grey – on an industry leading five day turnaround.
For orders on single colours, the Visofold bi-fold is available in 10-days, with other products, including the Smart Visoglide inline slider, delivered from just 15 days.
“We opened our aluminium production facility in 2017,” explains Mike. “At £3.6m it was a sizeable investment that included a 30,000 sq ft factory, 10,000 sq ft of office space, and also an in-house powder coating line, and we have made further improvements to machinery and production capacity since then.”
This includes a six-figure investment into a Schirmer ALU BAZ Composite Orbit-C machining and cutting centre and more recently, a 4-head Ever Theta frame crimping machine from FOM.
Using profile scanning technology, the Ever Theta introduces exceptional accuracy during manufacture and is capable of flagging out of tolerance profiles of as little as 0.4mm in length or 0.9mm on the diagonal, helping to ensure extremely high levels of finish to 45 mitre and 90 joints.
And in addition to improving quality, it also delivers significant manufacturing efficiencies, by reducing full-cycle times to just 2 minutes and 31 seconds. Or put another way, around half the time it takes to use a conventional, single head crimper.
“We’ve approached aluminium production in the same way that we have with the PVC-U side of our business,” says Mike. “The main difference between a typical aluminium factory and a modern PVC production line, is quite clear in that it is much more labour intensive.
“But this model doesn’t work if you want to produce at volume, it doesn’t matter how skilled your fabrication team is. That’s not to say we don’t value our people, we do, they are the most important part of the company, but for us to drive forward our aluminium offer, to increase capacity and meet demand, we need consistent high quality – and that’s only been possible through automation.
“Installers are still working through a backlog of orders from autumn last year,” concludes Mike. “The latest lockdown has further increased demand, including for high end products and especially aluminium. Now, more than ever, installers need the support of suppliers to ensure they maximise the potential of that demand. We can help them to do that.”
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