I can’t be the only MD in this industry whose been pleasantly surprised at the speed with which the market seems to be recovering. I’d expected us to be gradually ramping up orders throughout May, June and into July, but we’re already at around 90% of 2019 levels and there’s no sign yet of that dropping off.
Several of our biggest customers are reporting record weeks and, while a proportion of that is bound to be pent up demand from during lockdown, there’s definitely a sense across the market now that both the new build and home improvement sectors are actually holding up fairly well.
There’s obviously a long way to go and any kind of second wave would be hugely damaging to market confidence, but weeks spent cooped up at home have clearly helped to drive renewed interest in windows, doors, conservatories and garden rooms. Apparently online searches for home improvements have been on the rise throughout and, if even a fraction of those searches translate into orders, it will be a big plus.
The market is far from stable though, particularly in PVC-U, and we’ve already seen some big-name administrations including Sash and Everest. However, there’s still an awful lot of business out there and, for every big loser in this there’s also likely to be one or two big winners.
For me, it will be all about cash and resources– having the confidence and above all the ability to keep on investing even in the face of biggest financial shock that most businesses will ever experience.
That’s cash to bring the workforce back, cash to invest in sales and marketing and of course cash to pay suppliers and keep those relationships strong. For us at Mila, it’s also about having the cash to invest in additional stock so that we don’t just keep up with market demand but stay ahead of it as well.
We’ve built our business on a market leading OTIF and, with the backing of our parent Arran Isle Group, we’re in a really good position to be able to make the investments we need now to ensure that stays at 98%+, as well as bringing in additional stock to help us win new business.
We’re already responding to the market and shifting towards higher volumes and we’ve got new products in the pipeline to add to the new cylinders, pull bars and friction hinges we announced at the start of the year. Look out for a big expansion of our stainless-steel range to suit the premium market and an exciting announcement on heritage products.