When over 400 industry leaders gathered to chew over the threats and challenges that made up 2021 and the immediate future, no one at the third Glazing Summit was short of opinions on either the problems or the possible solutions.
Speakers summed up a year that began with the continuing dilemma of Covid before descending into ongoing crises of materials and skills, topped by the ensuing industry-wide price increases and all against a backdrop of the piecemeal progress to Net Zero and the challenge to sell it to a cash-conscious consumer.
On prices, comments ranged from anger to fear and an approximate consensus that the consumer may eventually come to terms with higher costs at the sharp end as they have done with other purchases facing the same pressure.
The issue of environmental products gave rise to far less optimism as speakers concurred on the homeowner’s reluctance to subsidise the saving of the world. There was general agreement also that much pf the problem may lie with the industry that is falling short on selling the benefits to a consumer who believes, among other things, that recycled should mean cheap.
Insight Data CEO Andrew Scott summed up many of the issues as well as warning that the industry could face a cashflow crisis over the next few months.
“As an industry we’ve been focused on managing supply-chain issues and employment headaches caused by the pandemic and Brexit, and managing customer expectations in extremely difficult circumstances,” he told the gathering at the Edgbaston Stadium.
“But it may be time to go back to the fundamentals of business and cashflow management as we approach Christmas and New Year.”
He concluded:“This year’s Glazing Summit comes at a pivotal moment in the history of our industry,” comments Andrew Scott.
“After the enormous upheavals of the pandemic, the sector now faces an unprecedented supply chain crisis, a worsening skills shortage, and the huge challenges posed by climate change.
“Navigating these issues will require leadership, vision, and collaboration between every aspect of fenestration.
“That’s exactly the sort of open and honest dialogue the Glazing Summit is designed to facilitate. After an amazing day in Edgbaston, I’m more optimistic about the future of our sector than ever.”