With 2014 just around the corner, David Greaves, Managing Director of Period Window Specialists Ventrolla, looks back on what has been an eventful year for this British business celebrating its 30th birthday. It has seen the company undertake significant investment including the upgrade of its manufacturing capability as well as taking steps to grow its presence in the consumer market, including range expansions, new team appointments and the launch of a new consumer brochure.
David Greaves reviews how the current energy crisis and concerns on rising energy bills is driving the need for innovative products as consumers look to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
“As 2013 draws to a close, UK businesses are heralding an optimistic start and welcome to the New Year as reports suggest signs of rising business confidence among both business and consumer sectors.
“Businesses in the UK have responded to this rising confidence by looking to new markets and increasing their investment plans.
“At Ventrolla, as our 30th anniversary of celebration draws to a close, we too are optimistic about next year and beyond.
“This year we have seen an increase of 14% in our order book. This growth can be attributed to our commitment to creativity, innovation and drive for constant improvement which has allowed us to increase our product range and also look to new markets including the domestic home improvement market.
“It is fair to say that a few years ago and maybe even at the start of this year, a business considering targeting the domestic home improvement market would have found it a challenging option.
“Yet over the last few months the housing market has started to shift, and we have seen more and more consumers look to invest in their homes and undertake home improvements to add value to their property.
“This investment is not simply being made because consumers are feeling flusher. Salaries are still not increasing and the rising costs of household bills are hitting the consumer in their pocket.
“Price hikes in energy bills for example have lead to a consumer shift towards products which reduce heat loss and costs of running a home.
“With an ageing housing stock, many of Britain’s homes are energy inefficient by international standards and in a recent survey from the Department of Energy and Climate Change around 15 million of the 26 million homes in Britain are not properly insulated, which is a huge concern.
“However, as more and more consumers turn off and become complacent on Green and environmental issues, the Government needs to change their message and stop targeting the consumer about reducing their energy use.
“In our business when we have spoken to our customers we have found that they understand the need to be green. But as an industry we need to listen and hear our customers. In the here now, it’s all about how they can reduce their costs and keep bills to a minimum.
“The cost of heating and lighting our homes is the highest it has ever been and with recent increases announced by the bulk of the “Big Six” energy companies, the rise is set to continue.
“After years of recession consumers will not willingly dip their hands into their pockets and pay for products which offer short term cost savings.
“We need to produce and manufacture innovative products, which combat heat loss and improve the energy efficiency of homes, while being transparent, showing and demonstrating the whole life costs, to motivate customers.
“Within the window renovation industry, we have witnessed a growth in demand for double and secondary glazing solutions as well as products that draught-proof. Independent reports and journalist accounts have stated that double glazing and draught proofing can save you up to £200.00 per year*. A number of industry commentators have predicted that in 2014 the window market will grow by 4%, creating significant opportunity for the trade.
“Looking ahead to 2014, the commercial sector will have to anticipate and respond to consumer demands as they look to products that will in essence reduce their household heating bills yet do not compromise on quality, reliability, durability or design (for those stylish and savvy customers). British companies that tap into this demand and innovate with great design and product features will have a strong future ahead of them.”